378 The Well That’s Not So Well

Where to Add This Adventure

This short adventure takes place near a small town or village. Insert this module when the adventurers are just arriving at a small village after some days on the road. The heroes could also learn of the village’s difficulties from traveling merchants, a few miles before reaching the village. This adventure is planned for 4 to 6 level 3 characters.

Background Lore

The village of Zumty is located a day away from the capital on horseback. Its main source of income is the exporting of livestock, food, and other goods. Zumty is mostly composed of farmers and ranchers. They breed more pigs than any other town near the capital.

The village used to draw the water they needed from the well to the east. But an earthquake a few months ago caused the underground water currents to shift and end up elsewhere. The well became useless and abandoned. Another well was built in a different area and the people of Zumty forgot about the first one. However, they never wondered the empty well could mean trouble.

A group of goblins that roamed in the vicinity of the village encountered the empty well. Their leader, a bugbear named Gnim, decided the well could come in handy. They explored the underground tunnels under it and noticed they had more than enough space to build a base. Gnim and the goblins developed a clever pulley device to build a sort of elevator to move between levels. They also dug a few tunnels and placed ladders that connect a couple of the underground chambers. In time, they even created two artificial cave-chambers of their own, placing some wooden beams to reinforce the ceilings and walls.

Gnim and the goblins found their zone of comfort in that well. An ever-present shelter and home was something Gnim and his goons hadn’t experienced for a long time. They felt confident and strong. Zumty became the goblins’ main target and source of food due to its proximity. A current mob war in the capital requires all members of the guard to be present there, so there isn’t much security in the small village.

At first, the goblins snuck up at night and stole a few loaves of bread or a pound of salted meats. They were subtle and swift. The villagers didn’t notice stuff went missing after a week of robberies. This gave more confidence to the greedy goblins, who then opted for higher scores.

It happened three days ago. The goblins tried to break into a barn and steal a pig. The poor porcine animals squealed and made enough noise to wake the villagers. Olivia Wullet and her husband, Francesco, caught the goblins red-handed. Mr. Wullet grabbed a shovel while a couple of neighbors arrived with farm forks. They did what they could and managed to drive the goblins away. However, Francesco’s right leg was gravely wounded. He must stay in bed for weeks. Plus, one of the neighbors, Samuel, died fighting the goblins.

Olivia knew the city guard would take weeks to come, maybe more. She is worried sick that the goblins might attack again. Her husband is incapacitated and the rest of the villagers are afraid to fight and end up like Samuel. Olivia Wullet has always been a voice in the crowd. She rallies the villagers and comes up with an emergency fund of 100 gold. They collected enough gold to hire a group of adventurers or mercenaries to take care of the goblins.

NPCs

Olivia Wullet

Neutral good human (age 38)

Mrs. Wullet is a stout, chubby woman. She has red cheeks and a welcoming smile. Her nose is very small compared to the size of her head. She wears her long hair in a thick braid. Her clothes are always stained from the farm work with the pigs all day.

Personality Trait. “We must adapt to survive; the world won’t change for us.”

Ideal. “There’s no good pretending to be something I’m not.”

Bond. “Wullet Farm is my life.”

Flaw. “I obey the law, even if the law causes misery.”

The Goblin Lair

The following descriptions of areas 1 through 14 correspond to the Goblin Lair.

Area Descriptions

Terrain. The underground complex is a natural cavern. Its walls are eroded from the water that used to be here. There are some boulders scattered around the caves. The squares where the boulders rest are considered difficult terrain.

Light. There are no torches or lamps in the goblin lair, all rooms are in complete darkness. The goblins see well in the darkness and see no need to illuminate their home.

Smells and Sounds. The humidity in the cave makes the air feel thick and the smells stick. The rooms with more concentration of goblins smell bad. Animal carcasses, rot, and bones create a foul stench. Goblin laughs and grunts echo through the cavern and the elevator shaft (see the Goblin Lair map).

1. Abandoned Well

It is a 30-minute-walk from Wullet Farm to the well. It is surrounded by tall green grass that dances with the wind. The well looks old and its bricks are eroded and moldy. The well has a 10-feet opening and goes down 40 feet. The goblins have sanded and shaped some of the bricks in the inside of the well to create stepping stones. This facilitates the task to climb down. Still, any creature requires a successful DC 10 Strength (Athletics) to climb down successfully. Failing by 5 or more means the creature falls in area 2 and takes 7 (2d6) bludgeoning damage.

2. Lair Entrance

The presence of goblins can be perceived in this room. Filth and bones are scattered all around. Small footprints with tiny toes with claws mark the dirt on the ground. There are two goblins here standing guard. If a creature fails to climb down the well and falls here, the goblins attack them immediately.

3. Wooden Elevator

Gnim and the goblins feel very proud of their contraption. They attached wooden beams on the top of the cave and hanged a pulley-system to move a wooden elevator up and down the shaft. The ropes and wooden gears don’t appear to be of top quality. A passive Perception score of 15 or higher reveals the wooden frame of the basket cannot hold more than two medium creatures (180 pounds).

If three or more medium creatures (220 pounds) get on the elevator, it collapses and falls to area 11. The shaft is 80 feet long but the ropes and gears slow down the fall. Any creature on the elevator when it falls lands in area 11, triggers the encounter there, and takes 12 (4d6) bludgeoning damage. Reduce this damage by half if the elevator falls from area 7.

4. Dummies

The goblins have placed some human-sized hay and animal skin dummies in here. The words “stoopid” and “dies” are written on them. Goblins practice their aim here. They throw rocks or arrows at the targets and organize contests between them. Three goblins practice their sharpshooting abilities. Near the entrance of this room, there is a ladder that descends to area 9.

5. Goblin Dormitory

Several animal pelts and hay are scattered all over the floor in this room. A strong smell of sweat and filth comes out of this room. Two goblins sleep in this room unless loud noises from area 3, 4, or 6 woke them up.

6. Goblin Armory

There are two improvised wooden racks with a couple of wooden swords, one rusty long sword, and many poor-quality short swords. These are back-up weapons in case the goblins lose the ones they have on them or if more goblins join their cause. Goblins spend some time of the day practicing their fencing abilities here. The long sword is too heavy for any of them to wield but they have fun pretending to be noble knights. Gnim doesn’t like the rusty sword and would rather swing his morningstar. Three goblins role-play a battle where two of them defeat a knight.

7. Mid-Level Landing

Stopping the elevator’s wheel in this area allows for passengers to get off the basket. There is a single curious goblin here. He waits to see who might be coming down to say hello. He screams and flees to area 10 when he realizes non-goblin creatures have invaded the lair. He warns any comrades in the war room.

8. Throne Room

This is one of the chambers that the goblins built. They did their best to sand the walls to make them smoother. Gnim ordered his goons to place wooden beams not only to reinforce the structure but also because they look good. Gnim improvised a throne with some planks, leather, bones, and animal pelts. He sits on it with the poise of a king. Gnim (bugbear) and four goblins are here at all times.

Secret Door. There is a trapdoor hidden under a rock. A passive Perception score of 15 or higher reveals its location. This artificial tunnel has a ladder that leads to area 14.

9. Goblin Dormitory

This is a dormitory similar to the one in area 5. One goblin sleeps in here. There is a ladder at the far end of this chamber that leads up to area 4.

10. Goblin War Room

The goblins gather here with Gnim to plan their raids and attacks. There is a rough and badly-drawn map of Zumty on the floor. The goblins scratched the ground with a rock to make it. It is full of “X’s” and other incomprehensible markings. There is a ladder on the west wall that leads to area 12.

There are three goblins here. If they become aware of the intruders, they don’t stay and fight them. They flee down the ladder and join their colleagues in area 12.

11. Lower Level Landing

This is the farthest the elevator goes. The elevator’s wheel stops moving and the pulley can only go backward from here. If any of the adventurers made the wooden basket collapse, this is where they land, and the basket pieces scatter all over the ground. The goblins in area 12 hear the crash and approach the scene.

Secret Tunnel. Gnim blocked the second entrance to the secret chamber (area 14). A passive Perception score of 14 or higher reveals the rocks and boulders can be removed to reveal an artificial tunnel that takes to area 14. It is not possible to rearrange the boulders.

12. Goblin Dormitory

This is the largest dormitory in the caverns. It is similar to the other two. There are more animal pelts and the stench is stronger. Three goblins rest in here. They are ready for battle if a teammate wakes them up, or if they hear the elevator crash. The ladder in this room goes up to area 10.

13. Storage

The goblins keep food and other goods in here. Most of it is useless trash but the goblins think otherwise. However, a character can find something valuable among the junk with a successful DC 14 Intelligence (Investigation) check.

Treasure. The valuable objects lost in the trash are a sturdy wool ribbon (30 gp), an antique wool hat (20 gp), and an ugly belt with a marble buckle (40 gp).

14. Secret Chamber

Gnim and the goblins stored the real treasures in here. There are two wooden chests and several wooden crates with goods and valuables.

Treasure. There is a large leather bag with 100 silver pieces and 50 gold pieces. There are two daggers and a longbow, several pieces of expensive silverware like plates and utensils (30 gp), and a collection of salts and spices (15 gp).

Development

Olivia Wullet and the people of Zumty are forever grateful to the heroes and pay them the agreed-upon amount. They also give them a letter of recommendation so they can bring it to the capital and state to the city guard that they’re friends to the village of Zumty.

They also ask the heroes to deliver a letter asking the authorities of the capital to return the usual guards to the village, in case they run into another emergency. Perhaps the adventurers can help with the current mob war in the big city and release the city guard from this mayhem. But that’s an adventure for another time.

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