It is there, all of it. Rumor has it there are guardians and an aura of fear in the tomb. I know we could plunder the treasures and set ourselves for life…
Uru, Masked Bounty Hunter
A life of adventure often begins with the desire to change one’s stars. The aspiration to rise beyond what peasants could dream of. Most commoners live comfortable, hard-working lives. But some people, the bravest, the dauntless, and the greediest put aside their daily affairs to risk their lives and follow the promise of riches and glory.
In this introductory Shadowdark adventure, the characters explore the tomb of six dwarvish wizards. The ancient location has been abandoned for centuries. Most of it has collapsed under its weight and become partially connected with a natural cavern. It is located on the outskirts of a forested region. Since its discovery by human explorers, many have tried to explore it and retrieve anything of monetary or historical value from within. Alas, immortal undead abominations guard the tomb. But the most powerful defense mechanism is a strange spell that causes trespassers to face their greatest fear. So far, no one has been able to overcome this test of will.
Alliance. A masked bounty hunter named Uru (soldier) approaches the characters with the map to a dungeon. They claim a spell keeps robbers away but together they can find a way to withstand it. Uru offers an advance and promises equal shares of any found treasure. Uru keeps secret that they already visited the dungeon but could not overcome his fear. Uru expects either to succeed this time or betray his new allies (10 gp, 1 XP).
|Most people stay away from the tomb in the forest. Some say it is of Elvish construction, others say dwarves built it. Still, the burial place is older than nearby towns.
|A masked individual has been asking around towns for companions to visit the tomb. None have agreed to work with them. The locals do not mess with the tomb.
|Rumor has it that those who have ventured into the tomb face whatever they are most afraid of. Apparently, no one has surpassed that test. They all fled in a panic.
|Dwarvish legends have records of the tomb. They claim that a clan created five makeshift shrines for the known gods. There was a pilgrimage there 800 years ago.
Level 1 Adventure
- Danger. Risky. Check for a random event every 2 crawling rounds and after loud noises (3-in-6 chance).
- Light. Some areas have braziers with permanent light spells; the rest are dark. All denizens are dark-adapted.
- Aura of Despair. Mortals in the dungeon feel dread and angst as they approach area 5. This sensation can be mostly ignored before it becomes stronger in area 4.
|RANDOM EVENTS d6
|Three goblins arrive at the tomb after robbing a merchant by a nearby road. They carry two sacks of stolen goods. They are not hostile but extremely jumpy.
|A non-hostile dwarf ghost manifests before the characters and tells them that the treasures in the tomb are not worth dying for. The ghost begs them to leave unscathed.
|The characters encounter the bones of a daring adventurer who was slain by the dungeon’s guardians.
|1d4 dwarven skeletons emerge from the darkness. The axe-wielding undead are fearsome warriors.
|Two would-be adventurers (guards) arrive at the tomb. They are grateful to see the characters and offer to help as long as they can keep a share of the treasure.
|A swarm of spiders gathers by a nearby wall and attacks the party. It scatters after dropping to half HP.
1. Surrounding Grounds
The sparsely forested region is broken by a large rock outcropping. A forlorn trail leads to a dilapidated entrance on the rocky side and into a dark cavern.
- Getting Here. The characters must make a journey here from the nearest settlement by following the locals’ directions (DC 13 WIS). On a failure, the party runs across a brown bear looking for food.
- Forest Tracks. Careful trackers notice that someone went in and out of the dungeon in the past few days. That was Uru, the bounty hunter. If questioned, though, the mercenary denies the tracks are theirs (DC 12 WIS). They came previously but could not descend to area 5.
- Wild Apparitions. At dawn and sunset, a ghostly procession of dwarves in ritualistic attire come into the dungeon and descend to the tomb holding glowing candles.
2. Dilapidated Crypt
Four lavishly-carved sarcophagi await in the darkness of this once-opulent burial place. More than half the chamber collapsed and became a dilapidated ruin.
Valiant elvish knights of yore who earned the honor of a ceremonial burial through their deeds are interred here. Two of the enclosures were destroyed when the chamber collapsed. The elvish spirits are protective of their crypt and do not suffer unwanted visitors.
- Guardians. If the characters attempt to open a tomb or remain in the chamber longer than 1 crawling round, one shadow and three skeletons emerge from the sarcophagi. The undead monsters cannot move further than 30 feet from their respective sarcophagi.
- Godly Shrines
Five granite slabs carved with the sigils and words of known deities await dark, crudely-made alcoves. A mound of bones lies in front of Ramlaat’s shrine.
- The Shrines. Over the course of decades, dwarvish pilgrims built shrines for Saint Terragnis, Gede, Madeera, Ord, and Ramlaat. There are worthless trinkets and hand-made offerings by some of the shrines. If a character is devout to any of those gods and spends 1 crawling round praying, they earn a luck token.
- The Bones. It takes 1 crawling round to inspect the remains. Most of the remains belong to forest creatures but there are at least four sets of human bones. Orcs, wanderers, and goblinoids devout to Ramlaat, the Horde, left these as offerings to honor the Blood Rite.
4. Descending Stairs
A sense of dread increases by the half-ruined, 30-foot-tall, descending staircase. A faint, glimmering light can be seen at the bottom of the stairs, like a lure.
- Fear Itself. An ancient dwarvish incantation is embedded in the runes along the stairs. Whenever a creature descends to the first landing (10 feet from the top), an illusory representation of their greatest fear manifests before them. Mortals must face that which scares them the most before descending (DC 15 WIS). On a fail, individuals cannot voluntarily move any further and do their best to distance themselves from the stairs.
5. Tomb of Six Wizards
Two ponds of greenish water and six standing, stone enclosures flank a grand coffer on a 5-foot-tall dais.
- The Ponds. The water in these fountains flows backward and climbs into the spouts. They are the focus for the fear-causing spell (DC 13 INT check).
- The Mages. Coming within 5 feet of the dais causes the standing enclosures to open and release the undead abomination of the 1d3+1 wizards (ghouls). They order the characters to leave at once and attack if disobeyed.
- Treasure (5 XP). Within the stone coffer, the characters find 20 gp, 170 sp, 600 cp, two potions of healing, and three scrolls with random, tier-1 wizard spells.
Betrayal. Uru betrays the characters after retrieving the treasure here or at the dungeon entrance, in case Uru failed the fear test once more in area 4.