Part 1: The Twisted Caverns
The adventure begins as the player characters are traveling along the Trader’s Road on their way to the overgrown path leading to Verdinan, about three hours South of Byr. If they are following an adventure hook other than Death’s Whisper, skip the next section to the Random Encounters section.
Dead Man’s Ambush
If the characters are approaching the hidden road that leads to Verdinan and are following the Death’s Whisper adventure hook, the players are ambushed by 5 (1d4 + 3) zombies. Anyone with a passive Perception of 10 or higher will not be surprised by the appearance of the zombies. The undead are not stealthy.
Three of the zombies are at least a century old, and are practically falling apart. These zombies are from the Dilapidated Cabin in Verdinan. Remove that number of zombies from the encounter within the cabin.
The remaining zombie, or zombies, are dwarfs wearing wizard’s robes and armed with wands. If looted, one of the dwarf zombies has a map showing exactly where the path leading to Verdinan is located, a big, inky “X”marking the spot.
If the players need to take a short or long rest along the Trader’s Road, take too long deciding what to do at any point before reaching Verdinan, or are following an adventure other than Death’s Whisper, roll 1d20. On a roll of 17-20, a random encounter occurs. If one does occur, roll 2d6 and consult the table below to see what creature stumbles upon them in the wilderness.
*If you do not have a Monster Manual, use the Banshee.
The Path to Verdinan
If the player characters have not encountered the Dead Man’s Ambush, they will need to search the treeline for the overgrown path, having been given only a rough description of how far it would be from Byr. The characters will need to make a DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check in order to find the trail. If they fail, roll a 1d20 as per the Random Encounter section as a consequence. After the encounter, or if no encounter was rolled, the characters find the path after an hour of searching.
A DC 20 Intelligence (History) check reveals the background of this old village: the Ancient ruins in the area were once settled by humans, but a goblin raid left it abandoned for a hundred years. Back then, they were known for their hunters and woodcutters.
When the player characters approach the ruins, read:
The overgrowth opens only slightly to reveal what remains of Verdinan. Most of the buildings that once stood here long ago have since collapsed, the two remaining structures standing out amongst the rubble and ruined foundations. The first structure you notice is a dilapidated, wooden cabin covered in vines and plant life, blocking your view of the windows. To the Northeast of the cabin is a partially collapsed stone tower, the back of it built into the side of a large hill. Smoke rises from the inside of the tower through its collapsed roof.
All the doors of the cabin are made of old, swollen wood, requiring a DC 10 Strength check to open. If the character rolls above a 20, they accidentally punch a hole into the door instead of opening it, drawing the attention of creatures that dwell inside. If they are here because of the Death’s Whisper adventure hook, the door is wide open.
This old cabin is home to 5 (1d4 + 3) zombies. If the characters faced the Dead Man’s Ambush, reduce the appropriate amount of zombies from the total. If they want to know what is bringing these dead to life, a DC 20 Intelligence (Arcana) check, or a cleric making a DC 15 Wisdom check, shows that necrotic energy flows around the area, emanating from the ground deep below you.
The tower against the hill is only about 15 ft. high, surrounded by rubble on the Northwest side of it. A character making a DC 15 Intelligence (Investigation) check can tell from the amount of stone rubble that the tower was once four stories high. A majority of the tower still standing is made of Ancient white marble.
The smoke is coming from a large, dying bonfire in the middle of the tower’s barren first floor. The bonfire is fueled by a pile of goblin corpses.
The first floor of the tower is the only remaining interior structure, save for a partially destroyed staircase hugging the outer wall and leading 12 ft. high to nothing. On the far side of the tower is a doorway. The door requires a DC 10 Strength check to pull it open, a roll of 20 or higher causing the door to become completely unhinged from the wall.
Trap. Just within the door is an alarm trap designed to drop two pouches filled with small silver bells down the natural stair way. A DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check reveals the thin string across the bottom of the door frame attached to the two pouches at the sides of the tunnel. The trap can be easily stepped over, but a DC 10 Dexterity check disarms it safely. No check is required if someone is holding the bags. If the trap is activated, the bells falls down the tunnel, warning the creatures in areas 1, 2, and 3 of “The Verdinan Tunnels” to their presence.