The Ancient Ruins of the West Wood: Roped In

Twisted Tunnels: Rooms 17 and 1817. Roper Lair
If the player characters enter from the chamber from the East, read:

As the downward slope opens into a chamber, a wide, natural pillar blocks the path, creating a T-intersection. The North path reveals a tunnel on that side of the chamber. The South path has a lower ceiling, but gradually inclines as it curves North.

If the player characters enter from the North:

You follow the trail of claw marks to the next chamber in the South. A wide, natural pillar blocks your view of the Western side of the chamber.

When the characters finally enter the chamber proper:

Within the large chamber, along the Southwestern wall is a large stalagmite with what appears to be vine-like vegetation around it.

The roper is using its tentacles as a lure, baiting plant eaters and the curious alike into examining this strange, and lone, feature in the chamber. The roper attacks when a creature gets within 15 feet, or if any creature in range ignores it and turns to leave.

Corpse. Behind the roper’s position is the corpse of a male svirfneblin, or deep gnome. It is torn in half, and long dead by at least a day. It would have been half the size of a human, and is bald with stone-colored skin. It takes a DC 20 INT (History) check to recognize it as more than just “almost like a halfling”.

Treasure. The corpse holds 15 gp. If you wish, you can switch this with 15 pieces of earth quartz, what the people of the Underdark uses instead of gold coins in this world. It also has an unrefined pale yellow spell crystal (DC 15 Intelligence (Arcana) to identify), and a map to his home in the Crystal Caverns.

18. Claw Marks
Cut into the stone here are two sets of four jagged lines. A DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check reveals something stuck in the jagged lines: a bloody piece of fingernail. It is clear that the tracks begin to the North and end as they enter the chamber to the South.

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The Ancient Ruins of the West Wood: The Coming Ruin

Twisted Tunnels 15 and 1615. A Poor Soul
This section of collapsed hallway is host to a symbiotic flora that requires a living host in order to procreate.

About thirty feet down the hall to your right is a goblin corpse in the fetal position next to the dead end of rubble. Its skin appears to be fuzzy and green, but as you get closer, you begin to realize that some kind of mold is growing on its rotting flesh.

Green Mold. If the corpse is disturbed or a creature comes within 5 feet of it, the green mold releases a 10 foot radius cloud of deadly spores. Creatures in the area of effect must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw, or take 3d6 poison damage. The creature takes half damage on a successful saved.

Green Mold Disease. If a creature fails the Green Mold Constitution saving throw, roll a d20. On a roll of 16-20, the creature becomes infected. If infected, the creature’s Constitution score drops by 1 point after each long rest. They begin to grow green splotches on their skin, and die once they reach a Constitution score of 0. It counts as a disease in relation to removing it. Alternatively, suffering 20 hit points worth of fire damage in one round would also remove the condition.

Custom Alternatives. I essentially borrowed heavily from the Yellow Mold encounter in the Mines of Madness 5e playtest adventure. I just changed the name and added the disease to create the possibility of an ongoing issue for the player’s to encounter. Feel free to replace it with the Yellow Mold in the DMG, or any other form of natural surprise such as “the goblin’s a zombie!” or “the corpse explodes into several swarms of roaches!”.

16. The Rift
As the PCs approach the edge of the hall, read:

The hall ends in darkness ahead. The sound of rushing winds echo across the marble walls. As you approach, you see that the hall has opened to a gargantuan, underground rift so wide that the opposite end eludes your sight. Directly below you are several, small, stair stepped cliffs leading to another exposed marble hallway that hangs above the bottomless void.

Cliffs. Each cliff is only 5 feet high, meaning that outside of combat, the cliffs don’t require a check. In the midst of combat, the cliffs are a DC 5 Strength (Athletics) to climb.

As half the PCs have reached the second ledge, read:

The air around you seems to start humming, but you are quick to realize that the humming is actually a buzzing as a swarm of red, cat-sized insects fly in from the Rift.

Eight stirges swarm the PCs and attempt to drain them. If half the swarm is defeated, the rest retreat to the safety of the rift.

The Lower Hall. The hall below the cliffs is the primary entry point for the “Ancient Complex”. It is 15 feet away and 15 feet down from the ledge above. A character can make a DC 10 Strength (Athletics) check to climb to the Hall, or a DC 10 Strength (Athletics) check to jump to the hall followed by a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw to not roll off into the void below. They will take 2d6 falling damage from the jump, unless the character rolled a natural 20 on the Dexterity saving throw, which reduces the damage to 1d6 falling damage.

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The Ancient Ruins of the West Wood: The Goblin King

Twisted Tunnels: Rooms 13 and 1413. The King’s Chamber

When the player characters are approaching the gate, read:

The tunnel curves suddenly to the right, where a double door gate that is seemingly constructed from bone blocks your path. Two giant stalagmites flank the gate, and any other gap leading into the chamber beyond is blocked with mortared stone or a rotting goblin corpse. Guarding the gate are two goblins wielding spears and dressed in what must pass as ornamental armor.

Guards. The two goblins posted here haven’t seen combat in a long time and are wearing ridiculous armor made from found objects, like pots or pans. They are wielding spears, and their armor, while adding +1 to their Armor Class, restricts their movement, giving them disadvantage on all checks, saves, and attacks made with Strength or Dexterity. They also carry large horns, constructed from the horns of a goat.

If the goblins are approached by a character instead of attacked, read:

The guards cross their spears to block your entrance, but appear visibly shaken. Sweat drips off the nose of one goblin as it nervously commands, “N-none shall pass save for those deemed fit by the King!”

The guards are surprised to see that an enemy combatant has survived the second defense post. They put up minimal defense and can be easily frightened away if threatened with death.

Gate. If examined with a DC 10 Wisdom (Nature) check or a DC 15 Wisdom (Medicine) check, a character can determine that the gate is made from the bones of at least 12 different species of forest animal. It is barred from the other side so only a blow from the horn of a guard, or a DC 20 Strength check can open the gate. The gate can also be destroyed after taking 15 hit points worth of damage. It is resistant against piercing weapons, and is vulnerable to bludgeoning weapons.

As the player characters enter the main chamber, read:

Directly ahead of you on the far side of the chamber are two massive, natural stone pillars, between which sits a crowned goblin atop a makeshift platform that puts him above eye level. Flanking the wooden ramp leading up to the platform are two large, dog-like reptilian creatures, heads raised from a napping position. The crowned goblin hops up from his throne of dilapidated junk, his face filled with rage. “I did not summon any pale fleshed ones! How dare you enter without permission of the Great Goblin King!”

Guards. The Goblin King is protected by two guard drakes, and two hobgoblins. He found the drakes as pups in the pit in the South section of the chamber and has raised them himself. They are named “Nibbles” and “Mittens”. The hobgoblins flank the gate on the inside of the chamber, pulling it open toward them when the horns are blown. If the player characters enter peacefully, the hobgoblins close the gates immediately after the characters enter. If the gate is forcibly opened, or the characters decide to attack before the gates are closed, the hobgoblins hide behind the gate doors to ambush the enemy.

The Goblin King. The self proclaimed king of all goblins, Bootex, will not tolerate any mischief from the player characters. Only by playing to his ego can the characters bypass a combat encounter.

The Pit. This 15 foot deep crater, formerly part of the Arelin complex below, emits a faint glow that characters can only notice when within 10 feet of the edge. The southern wall of the pit is a window that cannot be broken, nor moved. Beyond the window is a short, dead end hallway made of Ancient marble. The light comes from an Ancient light crystal hanging from the ceiling on the other side of the window. Two additional guard drakes, larger and meaner than their siblings living above them, live within the pit. They are called “Trasheater” and “Scar”.

Custom Alternatives. If you do not have access to the guard drake statistics, switch them out with the saber-toothed tiger statistics.

14. Breakthrough

A collapsed wall in the tunnel ahead emits a bright light. As you approach, you notice the near seamless white marble of Ancient architecture lining the floors, ceilings, and walls of the hall beyond the breach. Crystalline light fixtures hang from the ceiling emitting a bright, white light.

Light fixtures. These bronze fixtures are attached to the ceiling with small bronze chains. They give power to the ancient light crystal held within them.

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The Ancient Ruins of the West Wood: Above the Foe

Twisted Tunnels: Room 1212. Defense Post Two
If a player character enters from the small chamber above, read:

The tunnel ends in a small chamber ahead, but not before the floor opens to the chamber below your position. Below, completely unaware of your presence, several goblinoids huddle next to a line of stalagmites.

If the player characters enter from the South tunnel, read:

After a slight descent, the tunnel opens to a chamber running East to West. From the entrance, you can only see half of the long chamber which gives no signs of closing off soon. You can see three stalagmites innocently perched sporadically ahead of you.

The defense post is held by a group of goblinoids and their pet drakes. Three ambush drakes are hiding behind the northeastern stalagmite and attack if any characters trip over the trap, or the party passes them. After the first round, they are joined by five goblins, three hobgoblins, and the drakes’ bugbear master from behind the line of stalagmites. The bugbear shouts out in pain if an ambush drake is killed before the end of round one, revealing his position.

Stalagmites. The line of stalagmites provides half cover to the goblinoids and acts as difficult terrain when moving through a square with a small stalagmite.

Trap. If a goblin from Room 11 comes to warn its allies waiting here, a thin rope has been string between the two southeastern stalagmites. To notice it, a creature must succeed at a DC 20 Wisdom (Perception) check or a DC 10 Intelligence (Investigation) check. Any creature that fails to notice the string and passes between the two stalagmites must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw versus falling prone. Any character with a passive Perception of 15 or higher gains advantage on the saving throw.

Treasure. The bugbear is wearing a diadem made of pure silver. It is the Diadem of the Drake King. In addition, the combined treasure amongst the goblinoids equals 5 gp, 13 sp, 17 cp, and three unrefined crystals worth about 25 gp each. One crystal is blood red, another amber, and the final one is sea green.

Hidden Treasure. A passive Perception of 15 or higher, or a DC 10 Intelligence (Investigation) check reveals a hidden hole about 7 feet off the ground near the northern tunnel. This is where the bugbear typically stores his diadem. Within the hold is a small, soft blanket for the diadem, and a slightly luminous, deep purple refined crystal. The luminescent energy within the crystal pulses slightly and floats through it like a lava lamp. After identifying what the crystal is, a creature can make a DC 10 Intelligence (Arcana) check to learn that the crystal is a +3 Silent Image Crystal.

Crystals. A DC 15 Intelligence (Arcana) check reveals the crystals to be spell crystals. Unrefined crystals are unusable until a trained character can use Crystal Crafting Tools on them.

Custom Alternatives. If you do not have access to the ambush drake statistics, use the worg statistics in the basic rules. Hide them around the room where possible. Change the Diadem of the Drake King to work with any animal with an Intelligence of 3 or lower, and a CR of 2 or lower.

Diadem of the Drake King

Head, very rare
This diadem change size to fit the head of its bearer, and offers advantage on all Animal Handling checks involving drakes. When attuned to it, the diadem also allows you to cast Animal Friendship on a drake once per day, which does not require spell components, and you can sense the general direction of any drake within 30 feet of you. If a drake dies within 30 feet of you, you take 1d4 psychic damage.

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The Ancient Ruins of the West Wood: The Pit

Twisted Tunnels: Room 1111. Defense Post One

You enter from the northwest passage which leads to a slope lowering into the center of a “U” shaped chamber along the western wall. Another tunnel is at the top of a large cliff side in the northeast. The walls and floor of the chamber are unevenly formed, casting jagged, rocky shadows.

Trap. If a creature steps on the ten-foot by five-foot zone marked on the map, they activate a pressure plate, causing a log hidden behind a tarp along the ceiling to be released, swinging into any creature within the dotted lines. Affected creatures must make a DC 15 Dexterity save, or be forced into the sharpened sticks just below the cliff. Anyone with a Dexterity score of 13 or higher that failed the first check may spend a bonus action to make a DC 20 Dexterity check to avoid falling onto the sharpened sticks. Characters that are hit with the trap take 1d6 falling damage, and 1d6 piercing damage. A DC 20 Wisdom (Perception) check allows a character to notice both the tarp hiding the log, and the pressure plate.

Foes. Two gricks are hiding against opposite walls, camouflaged with the stone. When they have a character flanked, they strike. Three goblins man the top of the cliff in the northeast tunnel and get into position when they hear the trap activate, or the gricks in combat.

Developments. If the goblin on the northern-most end of the cliff is killed, he topples against a ladder that is propped up against the wall and both fall into the chamber below. If the ladder doesn’t fall, it is easily visible from below the tunnel. The last goblin standing retreats when he reaches half his hit points to warn his companions in Room 11.

Treasure. The remains of an adventurer, possibly a decade old, decorate the sharpened sticks below the western cliff. He did not survive the trap, a single stick penetrating his ribcage through leather armor. The dried corpse is wearing a silver ring worth 45 gp.

Hidden Secret. A DC 10 Intelligence (Investigation) check on the body reveals a hidden pouch in his cloak that holds an Amulet of Arthen, and a scroll requesting that Verdinan be searched for potential Ancient relics to assist in their cause. It is signed by Malich. A DC 10 Intelligence (History) check reveals that the character knows Malich as the leader of the United Peoples of Arthen, South of Areli.

Custom Alternative. The corpse that was once an adventurer dedicated to the neutral evil god Arthen contains another potential quest seed for the player characters to follow after this dungeon. Perhaps he follows a similar god of the dead in your campaign. Outside of it being an Ancient ruin, what other motivations would a cultist of death have in order to traverse these dangerous ruins?

Amulet of Arthen

Wondrous Item, uncommon
This clay amulet allows a cleric or paladin dedicated to Arthen to wield this amulet as a holy symbol. Evil druids that worship Arthen can also wield it as a druidic focus. They gain a +1 to their spellcasting DC and spell attacks.

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The Ancient Ruins of the West Wood: Cave Entrance/Exit

Twisted Tunnels: Rooms 8, 9, and 108. Raid Party Storage Area

The tunnel widens ahead as it rises to the surface. You can see the edges of the cave’s maw just beyond the next turn. To the immediate West sits a hastily constructed wooden door.

Light. If it is daytime, the area is lit with dim light from the surface which is at its brightest in the late afternoon hours. Looking into Room 8, a character can see the silhouettes of the creatures in that area.

Door. The door is locked, requiring a DC 15 Dexterity check. It is not made of aged, rotting wood, so it requires a DC 17 Strength check to break down, though it will alarm any creatures in the areas 6 through 9.

Guard. A single goblin guards this room with a light crossbow. He will join any fight he hears taking place in Room 8. Continue reading

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The Ancient Ruins of the West Wood: Goblin Guardians

Twisted Tunnels: Room 77. Goblin Southern Watch
Ever since the battle that took place in Room 4, the goblins have left guards at this location, watching the small cliff.

If the PCs approach from the South, read:

The ceiling of the tunnel rises to accommodate for the high cliff face blocking your way to the North.

If characters make too much noise in this area, the goblins will enact a surprise round as the first character climbs to 10 feet off the ground.

Continue reading

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