Oh, there’s plenty to gain here. What I have for you is a business investment opportunity. Wouldn’t you like to change your stars for good? Let’s do this!
Garlen, Master Prospector
Life-changing opportunities seldom present themselves to the commonfolk. Most people remain in the social stratus they were born in; few can even aspire to climb a step above their parents or relatives. But when the time comes, it is crucial to act quickly before the opportunity vanishes.
Such a possibility appeared to Garlen, a Master Prospector who manages several mines on behalf of the crown. Garlen was given control and the right to mine a strange cavern close to Barleyton. Past prospectors have tried to establish a mining operation there in the past. They reported the presence of a silver vein and numerous, large-sized precious stones; amethysts. Unfortunately, the caverns are dangerous; strange violent creatures crawl in the dark. Many miners have perished.
Garlen has one month to make the place profitable before the rights to mine are passed on to someone else. He is desperate to clear the place and start mining.
Business Proposal. Garlen hires the characters to escort him into the mines, clear the place of threats, and find the main vein of amethysts. In exchange, Garlen offers to make the characters owners of a 15% stake in the mining business’ profits. He promises a good residual income and similar opportunities in the future (0 XP).
|Ten miners came back to Barleyton with a cartload of amethysts months ago. After squandering their money, they tried to do it again but got killed in the mines.
|Garlen is from Barleyton. He was once a lowly miner but was either smart or lucky enough to climb up the mining industry. Now, he manages mines for the crown.
|Regional rumors and gossip about the cavern’s danger go back a few generations. The dark tunnels are dangerous.
|A spelunker who delved into the caves came back with a skin rash and lung damage from breathing in there.
|An old man claims people tried to mine the local veins almost 80 years ago when he was a child. They abandoned their operation weeks after some people died.
|A swarm of enlarged, ravenous rats has been seen close to the mine entrance. Farmers often set up traps and measures to defend themselves from the rodents.
Level 5 Adventure
- Danger. Risky. Check for a Random Event every 2 crawling rounds and after loud noises (3-in-6 chance).
- Light. Areas with amethysts are dimly lit; the rest of the tunnels are dark. All denizens are dark-adapted.
- Structural Integrity. Once per hour, the coming and going of burrowing creatures causes rubble to fall from the cave ceilings. Large amounts of debris fall on a random character and potentially bury them out, dealing 6d6 damage (DC 17 DEX check for half damage).
|RANDOM EVENTS d8
|Two swarms of rats gather in the darkness close to the party and attack. They disband if reduced to half HP.
|A black pudding drops from the ceiling on top of an armor-clad individual. It mindlessly fights to the death.
|1d4 giant dung beetles emerge from the caverns and attack. They are territorial but do not pursue.
|4d4 goblins stumble upon the party (Reaction roll). They carry pickaxes and shovels to mine amethysts.
|2 gricks use their camouflage ability to hide in plain sight. They attack the last armored character.
|An independent miner (peasant) arrives looking for ores. He antagonizes the party and tries to drive them away.
|A strong wind current blows through the caverns, snuffing out fires and any uncovered light sources.
|Two giant bats swoop from the dark ceiling and attack random creatures. They fiercely fight to the death.
1. Entrance Hall
The well-trodden road from Barleyton leads to a rocky region in a sparsely forested area. The tracks of recent mine carts and prospectors are still fresh.
In the company of Garlen, it takes the party three hours to traverse the countryside and reach the mine entrance. Garlen (peasant) mentions that there must be abandoned tools and implements that he plans to keep as he expects none of the previous owners to claim them.
- The Tracks. The bootprints and wheel tracks are at least a week old. The characters recognize smaller prints of possibly goblinoid origin. In addition, rat droppings in the area far surpass the average for the region, there must be a large colony inside (DC 16 WIS).
2. Mine Proper
Darkness gathers gradually as the tunnel reaches an area filled with abandoned tools, two carts, and a bifurcation into several, dark, narrower cave tunnels.
- The Tools. There are two working carts and enough shovels, hammers, and pickaxes for a ten-person crew. Two sleeping cots were also left behind by the last proprietors. Some tools show unnatural rust damage.
- The Tunnels. Four narrow, slithering passages open their way through the earth. Two of them reach dead-ends, one connects to area 3, and the northbound one leads to a collapsed tunnel. The characters can spend 1 crawling round clearing up the debris. It leads to area 4. Opening up the path causes the noxious spores to spill into the first 10 feet of this tunnel (see area 4).
- Treasure (1 XP). One of the mine carts is filled with rubble and coal. Among the debris hide five pounds of uncut amethysts. They can be sold for 15 gp to a jeweler.
3. First Amethyst Vein
A crystalline formation of dimly-glowing, purple-tinted precious stones sprouts from the bare south wall.
- The Amethysts. If Garlen is present, he screams with joy when seeing the large formation. He explains that this is not the main vein and that cutting out the stones must be done with care lest the amethysts get ruined in the process. He shall bring enough capable craftsmen when the mines are cleared of dangerous threats.
4. Noxious Fungi
Water filters through the stone above and keeps the walls humid. Patches of boulder-sized fungal lifeforms attach to the chamber walls. The fungi produce a variety of toxic spore trails that cause skin rashes and severe damage to the lungs. Creatures that breathe the air in this chamber take 3d6 damage per minute of exposure (DC 14 CON check). Skin exposed to the spores becomes red and sore. This affliction lasts for 1d3 days.
5. Den of Rust
A mound of rubble may be removed in the same manner as described in area 2 to connect this chamber with area 3. The area contains a formation of amethyst crystals. A rust-like dust covers the crystals and walls of this chamber. They were caused by rust monsters (DC 14 INT).
- Corrosive Vermin. Three rust monsters inhabit the eastern cavern chamber. The characters’ metal armor and weaponry attract these insectoids when they arrive.
6. Goblin Spelunkers
The clinking sound of metal on crystal grows louder in the proximity of this area. A team of distrusting goblin prospectors struggle to pick at the crystals.
There are eleven goblins in the room. They came from the Shadowdark from area 7. The goblins do not wish to fight but do not trust the characters easily due to past interactions with surfacers (Reaction roll with disadvantage). Unfortunately, Garlen is unwilling to split his earnings thinner yet. The prospector orders the characters to slay or, at least, drive off the ‘filthy goblin thieves’.
- Truce. The characters can convince Garlen to trade with the goblins as they are solely interested in uncut stones. There must be a way to profit (Reaction roll).
7. Chasm into the Shadowdark
The floor breaks and gives way to a dark chasm of untold depths. Dropping a stone reveals that the bottom must be at least 100 feet below (DC 15 INT). The chasm connects the mine to uncharted tunnels and the depths of the Shadowdark. The characters may access those regions from here. Regardless, it is advised to cover this opening for a safe mining operation (DC 13 WIS check).
8. The Rat Colony
The walls of this chamber and the nearby tunnels are dotted with hundreds of orifices. Small, red eyes glint from the apertures and the surrounding darkness.
Three swarms of rats emerge from the floor and walls and attack the characters. If one of the swarms is defeated, the other two disband and flee into their burrows.
9. The Main Amethyst Vein
The largest amethyst formation pierces the rough floor and ascends 15 feet in a glimmering display of opulence and nature. This is the main gemstone vein.
Garlen is ecstatic after finding this chamber and promises the characters that their efforts shall be well remunerated in the near future. Garlen says this is a gold mine.
- Stone Guardian. The amethysts in the mine are faintly magical as they focus the energy of the Material Realm. When the characters arrive, a greater earth elemental rises from the soil and attacks instinctively. Each round, there is a 3-in-6 chance that a mound of debris falls on a random character. The target takes 2d6 damage and is pinned to the ground (DC 14 DEX check).
10. Poor Souls
The cavern is littered with a bed of bones. Some are humanoid but the majority belonged to reptiles and small mammals. The remains are of varied ages. Some are only weeks old, others must belong to the hapless miners that an old man claims to remember (see Rumor 5).
Two weeks after the mine is cleared. Garlen’s team of gemstone miners and jewelers arrive at the mine and start working. Garlen promises to pay the party their percentage of the profits once per month after all sales have cleared. He also explains that costs and risks must be equally split among all parties, the crown included. Some months may be more profitable than others.
Once per month, roll 3d100 – 100 to determine the characters’ earnings. For example, a roll of 250 – 100 yields a profit of 150 gp for the party. On a bad month, a roll of 70 – 100 yields a loss/debt of 30 gp that the characters must pay to keep the mining operation running.