They all eventually lose their bearings and become mad. But I am confident the secret to stopping this curse is hidden somewhere in the magical family crypt.
Lady Ana Valerian
Secrets and curses move down family trees like water on a stream. It is impossible to stop their movement and they tend to turn up at the worst of times. Some people bury them to hide the knowledge that would doom the next generation. Or to be rid of a relentless fate that threatens to affect all. In the end, they all fail. The past catches up to exert its weight. Those who inherit this legacy cannot deal with the reality that assails them.
The Tainted Secret
The Valerian Family is so wealthy none of them have to worry for the rest of their lives. The nature of their assets: coal and iron mines, mass production of weaponry, and the construction of siege engines, warrants unending financial security for generations as the war machine never stops and humankind never achieves peace.
Eight generations ago, Adrian Valerian, was appalled after leading the family for some years. Valerians lived comfortable, lavish lives. Living off the family fortune and squandering their inheritance, in ignorance of the atrocities they participated in. Adrian was one of the few who understood the misery that mine workers endured, the hundreds of lives taken by their weaponry, and the cities that their siege engines brought to their knees.
Adrian Valerian summoned a mage and requested a special incantation. Adrian’s mind split in two. The merciless businessman that kept the business rolling, and the blissfully ignorant rich man that lived a lavish life. This condition was inherited by all who took direct care of the business, to protect them from suffering. A generation later, something went amiss. After a decade or two in this state of mind-fracture, the Valerians went insane and had to be secluded before they ended their lives.
Lady Ana Valerian, the current family leader, is close to falling into insanity. From years of research, she believes the secret to healing the Valerian family lies hidden in the family crypt. She offers 4,000 sp for exploring the crypt and finding out how to save her mind. The answer to this predicament must be down there.
Features of the Vault
Tier 2 Adventure
Light. The sconces in the vault feature continual flame spells. The magic fades in 2 minutes if removed.
Chamber Ceilings. All areas have 25-foot-tall, domed ceilings decorated with intricate runes and the sigil of the Valerian family: the moon pierced by an arrow.
Teleportation Ward. A selective anti-magic field negates the casting of teleportation spells. The only way in and out of the structure is through the circle in area 1.
Tainted Abominations. Undead and construct creatures in the dungeon reform at dawn if destroyed.
1. The Teleportation Circle
The unlimited resources of the Valerian family brought this extraplanar crypt into existence. The only way in is the teleportation circle. Ana Valerian provides the runic sequence to access this location. If no character has access circle of teleportation, a mage is provided to cast it.
2. East columbarium
Four columns dotted with countless funerary niches await in the darkness. An otherworldly glow shines from the fine cracks that separate each enclosure.
Dozens of low-rank Valerians and well-regarded serfs are interred here. A Detect Magic check reveals a faint necromancy aura in each niche. The walls are decorated with epitaphs of the most important people buried here. Many speak of the insanity that overtook their leaders.
3. The Tainted Chapel
A golden vase stands on a stone plinth in the place of worship of this small chapel. A sound, akin to a low-pitched, monotone hum comes from the golden vase.
The vase radiates a powerful magic aura (Detect Magic check). It is empty. The vase is the focus of the ancient mind-fracture spell. Placing Adrian Valerian’s bones (area 8) within dispels the magic forever. Destroying the vase dooms all Valerians to madness unless the magical trinket can be replicated. Inscribed on the vase in Draconic, it says: ‘Live in ignorance of your distasteful existence. Die in madness wishing to know more’.
4. The Secret Vault
Careful inspection of area 3 reveals a brick that can be pushed to reveal a narrow passage to this area (Search check). The vault contains three stone coffers and a bookshelf with crumbling tomes. One of the coffers features a poison needle trap. Lifting the lid triggers the needle to push forward and prick the person’s hand (Fortitude roll). The affected creature loses 1/2 their HP and is poisoned for 1 hour. The coffer contains a journal that belonged to the mage that enchanted the Valerian bloodline. It reveals that placing Adrian’s bones in the vase in area 3 lifts the incantation. It also reveals that the mage secretly resented Adrian for his cowardice. The inescapable madness was crafted by the mage out of his dissent.
Treasure. The other stone coffers contain leather pouches with 700 sp, and four potions of healing.
5. Main Columbarium
The chamber contains twelve niche columns like the ones in area 2. People of middle rank are buried here. If the characters remain longer than a Dungeon Turn here (10 minutes), 1d6 shadows emerge from the niches and attack. They don’t pursue further than this chamber.
6. Crypt of Guardians
Four knights that sacrificed their lives out of their allegiance to the Valerians in ages past were honored in death with this funerary chamber. Their good deeds have made them immune to the crypt’s taint. No undead can enter this chamber thanks to the knights’ souls.
7. The Shifting Crypt
This area features a long, winding hallway dotted with alcoves and two 10-by-10 feet areas. Each alcove contains a pedestal with a bronze urn on it. Hierarchs of the Valerian family that predate Adrian Valerian are found here. Staying longer than a Dungeon Turn (10 minutes), causes two wights to emerge from the sarcophagi.
8. The Main Hall
Four columbarium columns and two 10-foot-tall statues of armor-clad knights surround a lavish, marble sarcophagus. A green mist pours from below its lid.
Adrian Valerian’s remains lie in the sarcophagus. But his spirit does not rest as it is the arcane focus of the mage’s incantation. It is destined to eternal madness. The presence of living creatures causes the spirits of Adrian (wraith) and two other Valerian rulers (wights) that came after him to manifest as abominate undead. The undead must be destroyed to gain access to the bones in the stone enclosure. If the characters wish to end the curse (see area 3), they must do so swiftly because the wraiths reform at dawn (see Features of the Crypt).
Treasure. Adrian’s dagger lies by his bones. It is an enchanted, sentient blade named Seven Lights of Dawn.
9. The Cavern
This cavern is littered with the bones of four individuals (Healing check). They were hapless tomb robbers who did not expect the mighty undead guardians.