654 Val’s Underground Gardens – LV 3 Shadowdark Adventure

No one believes it is possible. But I know this creature can be controlled. I just need more time to figure out how to tame its strangely aggressive behavior.

Val, the Misunderstood Botanist

An accomplished botanist and mage goes by the name of Val. She is known as a purvey­or of natural medicines, herbal infusions, and all manners of exotic plants. Her house, near the city outskirts, is surrounded by gardens and growing beds but the real magic occurs underground in the mag­ical soil, inside an underground compound that she built below her home. Val devised an arcane apparatus that helps grow magical varieties of plants underground. She named these machines the verdant engines.

The verdant engines power six subterranean gardens. Plants grow larger there and sometimes become mobile. The effect brought forth all manner of enlarged critters that Val loves, despite their dangerous demeanor.

A month ago, an idea crept into the botanist’s mind. She gathered all samples she could find of poison ivy and focused all the verdant engines’ energy on it. The resulting creature is a huge mound of uncontrolled hun­ger and verdant growth. Val has spent the last few weeks feeding and taming this irrational abomination.

Adventure Hooks

Urgent Need. Count Galland’s daughter has fallen ill. The count hires the characters to retrieve the missing botanist to secure the medicine (50 gp, 6 XP).

Rescue. Val’s brother, Adam, knows something wrong is going on. He urges the characters to come help him find the botanist for a small reward (20 gp, 3 XP).

Howling. A whistling, howling sound comes from Val’s estate when the moon rises. It scares the livestock. Local farmers offer a reward to solve this (30 gp, 4 XP).

RUMORS d6 Details
1 Some in the Mages Guild consider Val a heretic for attempting to create sentient plant breeds.
2 Val’s infusions have saved numerous people in the city.
3 The secret to Val’s success in botany is hidden inside her home. Many believe that nasty traps protect the place.
4 Val is selfish and a narcissist. She cares not for people but helps them to increase her perceived social value.
5 Strange howling sounds have been heard in Val’s home.
6 Val bought all poison ivy samples available 1 month ago.

Level 3 Adventure

  • Risky. Check for encounters every 2 crawling rounds and after a battle or loud noises (1-in-6 chance).
  • Light. Some areas feature lit braziers. Other areas are in total darkness. All denizens are dark-adapted.
  • Locks. Doors have mid-quality locks. They can be by­passed with enough skill and tools (DC 13 DEX check).
  • Secret Areas. Close inspection of an area for 1 crawl­ing round reveals a hidden button. Pushing it reveals a narrow passage into a hidden area or hallway.
1 1d3 giant leeches emerge looking for an easy meal.
2 1 ochre jelly filters through the ceiling cracks and drops on a random adventurer (DC 13 WIS check to detect).
3 2d6 speaking mice show up. They speak of mundane matters but can mention that her mother is ‘below’.
4 A boar accompanied by cubs approaches. If ignored, it leaves. If approached, it becomes extremely aggressive.
5 A swarm of scarabs emerges from cracks in the wall.
6 Lidda (peasant), Val’s apprentice, approaches calling for help. She says Val will soon lose control of the plant.
7 Leafy vines grow suddenly and crack through the walls.
8 A fairy named Aluna offers their help. They claim Val is close to losing control of her wild creation in area 12.

1. Entrance Hall

Val’s home is abandoned. The basement access doors lead to a 40-foot-long stairway into area 1. Three clay vases lie on stone plinths by the south wall alcoves.

  • Pitfall Traps. Stepping on the stone circle or in front of the fountains triggers pitfall traps (DC 12 WIS check to notice). Targets take 3d6 damage and fall to area 10.
  • The Vases. The clay vessels contain a strange fungal concoction. Drinking it awards a luck token but incurs the risk of 1d6 poison damage (DC 12 CON check).

2. The Grand Hallway

This 100-foot-long hallway connects to several adjoining chambers. It features a floral and verdant fragrance.

  • Pitfall Trap. The marked floor tile at the end of the hall is a pitfall trap (DC 12 WIS check to notice). The target falls to area 12 and onto the shambling mound!

3. The Grow Gardens

Each chamber contains vibrant vegetation and en­larged flora whose stems and leaves move faintly.

  • Plant Life. Many plants are magically close to sen­tience. Many can speak but lack any form or memory. Im­paired, half-sentient creations such as these are frowned upon by the Mages Guild (DC 13 INT check).

4. Val’s Study

The small study contains two bookcases and an empty chest. Most books are about botany and nature.

  • Val’s Journal. Updated 4 days ago, the journal reveals Val’s findings on the shambling mound about its immuni­ty to fire and how electric energy empowers it.
  • Pitfall Trap. Stepping on the marked area triggers a pitfall trap (DC 13 WIS check to notice). The targets fall to the pond in area 8 and take 2d6 acid damage.

5. The Common Garden

The plants in this garden are not magical. They grow un­derground thanks to the verdant engines but they are too far apart to imbue their magic on the flora here.

  • Fake Vault. The chests feature poison needle traps (DC 16 WIS to notice). Tampering with the lids causes the target to be poisoned for 1 hour (DC 14 CON check)

6. The Dryad’s Garden

An androgynous, yellow-hued figure covered in green­ery steps from a tree planted in a shallow grow box.

  • Cinnara. The dryad claims she has been Val’s captive for years. The dwarf tree is her bonded tree. The dryad is weak because the verdant engines siphon her life force.
  • Rescue. The engines in area 7 must be disabled be­fore moving Cinnara’s tree or she perishes. Returning her tree to the woods saves the dryad (1 luck token each).

7. The Verdant Engines

Each chamber contains a coffin-like, glowing, magical device that contains a thick, green substance. A glass lens on its lid shoots a green-hued light ray upward.

  • Disabling. A dispel magic spell renders any engine in­ert. They can also be hacked to pieces (HP 20, AC 10). It is necessary to disable the verdant engines to move Cin­nara’s tree back to the forest (see area 6).
  • Learning. A wizard may study a verdant engine for 1 crawling round to reverse-engineer Val’s invention. It re­quires a captive fey as the engine’s fuel source. Captur­ing the abominate creature in area 12 is a way to do this.

8. The Acid Pond

Creatures that trigger the pitfall trap in area 4 fall into this 10-foot-deep acid pond. Creatures doused in acid take 1d6 acid damage after climbing out unless they spend 1 crawling round cleaning their body and gear.

9. Altar to Gede

The statue of an elvish woman with her hand raised as in prayer overlooks the dead-end chamber. The sigil on the statue’s chest is a popular holy symbol.

Any religious person knows this is a Gede’s altar, the god of feasts, mirth, and the wilds. This god is commonly worshiped among elvish and halfling communities.

  • The Plead. The statue’s right hand holds a crumbled piece of paper. The paper reads ‘Gede, please give me the strength to contain the power of your mighty offspring’.
  • The Offering. Spending 1 crawling round praying to Gede awards a religious character 1 luck token.

10. Chambers of Spikes

Creatures that trigger the pitfall traps in area 1 fall into these small chambers that contain nothing but 5-foot-tall iron spikes. There is a 2-in-6 chance that a target be­comes impaled if they fall. In such a case, they cannot leave the area without help and die in 2d4 rounds.

11. Secret Vault

The narrow and shallow passage leads to a vault with three stone chests brimming with treasure.

  • Treasure (10 XP). The stone chests in the secret vault contain 70 gp, 400 sp, two potions of healing, and a small, carved wooden box with a kytherian cog.

12. The Verdant Monster

A slender mage struggles to remain standing while using her magic to soothe an abominate plant whose vines sway to the rhythm of a screeching howl.

The shambling mound became overly aggressive 3 days ago. Val has tried, day and night since then, to appease the creature with the spells but without much success.

  • The Rescue. Val runs out of strength 1d4 rounds after the characters arrive. Unless they defend her, the shambling mound engulfs her. She dies moments later.
  • Binding Ritual. A wizard that studies the engines in area 7 can attempt to bind the shambling mound to a verdant engine with a DC 20 INT check. Failure on this check triggers a roll on the Wizard Mishap
  • Escape. If the shambling mound is not destroyed or bound within 48 hours, it escapes to the nearest town.


A radially-growing menage of trunks, vines, leaves. A central, flower-like head exudes green poisonous gas.

AC 14, HP 18, ATK 2 slam +3 (1d6 + engulf), MV near (climb), S +3, D -3, C +2, I -4, W +0, Ch -4, AL N, LV 4

Electric Conduit. Immune to fire. Healed by electricity.

A target hit by both slams in the same round is pulled into the vines. They suffocate in 2d4 rounds. DC 15 STR check on each turn to escape.

Poison Aura. Creature at close distance take 1d4 poi­son damage per turn (DC 12 CON check to resist).

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