701 The Zarvs Secret Archive – Lv3 Shadowdark Adventure

I’m not asking you to believe me, I’m asking you to do what’s right! Eleanor Zarv is destroying the county. True blood is the least of the problems here.

Indigo Zarv

Life is hard in the Land of Zircons. Countess Eleanor Zarv has not made it easy for her people to adapt to her new rules and laws. The particular one that forbids mercenary activity within the region has affected many lives. Not only do adventurers lack work. At the same time, villag­ers and farmers cannot solve the problems for which they usually hire external help. Giant rats in a cellar of­ten represent easy gold for a would-be hero, but such a thing is too dangerous for the commonfolk to solve.

Unrest in the Capital

Zarveck City has been the home of chaos and un­certainty during the past few months. People are jumpy and the streets are dangerous. To top it all, loud rumors about the legitimacy of the capital’s current ruler spread fast. More and more people suspect Eleanor Zarv took the ruling position by force, or by usurping the true suc­cessor’s right. Thus, an opposition was born.

The Zarvish Front

This rebel force claims that their leader, a man named Indigo, is the rightful Zarv successor. Their objective is to find physical proof that Eleanor Zarv obtained her position through lies and mass deceit. So far, their movement has only gained them more followers. But they still have no real proof of their claims. One thing is certain: Zarveck County would be better off with a different kind of leader. And Eleanor Zarv is not it.

Adventure Hook

The characters find themselves in the capital. They either side with the Zarvish Front or fight against them.

  • Capital’s Agents. The characters work for the coun­ty. Their mission is to intercept the Zarvish Front’s at­tempt to rob and pilfer one of the city’s secret lairs. All books, documents, or scrolls must be left untouched.
  • Truth Seekers. The heroes join the Zarvish Front and meet Indigo, their leader. He gives them the crucial mission to retrieve tomes, books, or any document that proves Eleanor Zarv’s claim to the county is false.
1 A squad of four soldiers arrive. The armored men were sent by the capital. They attack anyone in the dungeon unless they prove the countess sent them (Reaction).
2 There is an almost invisible tripwire before the charac­ters (DC 12 WIS). If they fail to see it, they trigger a trap when they touch the wire. A blade swings from one wall to the other and deals 1d8 damage (DC 13 DEX for half).
3 The characters meet two bandits and one thug. These are members of the Zarvish Front. They attack the char­acters unless they identify themselves (Reaction).
4 A current of wind extinguishes all light sources. The dun­geon magical braziers turn on again in one minute.
5 The characters may notice a pressure-sensitive plate concealed on the dungeon floor (DC 12 WIS). If they fail to spot it, they step on it, triggering a poison darts trap. All creatures in the area take 1d8 damage (DC 13 CON).
6 Two sets of animated armors stand in the characters’ way. They know no fear, they fight until destroyed.

Level 3 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 light spells; the rest are in darkness. Denizens are dark-adapted.
  • Magic Circles. The four levels of the dungeon com­municate via teleportation circles. Each circle pair con­nects to a different level of the dungeon (see map).

Getting There

Whether the characters work for the capital or on behalf of the Zarvish Front, they are given instructions to infiltrate the city sewers and find a secret room with a stone circle (DC 11 WIS check with advantage). On a fail, the heroes have an encounter before they find the ar­cane circle. A dire rat and two giant rats approach from dark pipes. The rodents flee when reduced to half their Hit Points. Alternatively, the heroes may avoid combat if they swiftly surrender 10 pounds of food.

1. First Level Landing

Stepping into the circle of the secret room in the sewers takes the characters to this area. A door blocks the way of the only corridor. It reads: ‘City’s Secret Archive’.

2. Antechamber

The banners in this room bear the sigil and coat of arms of the Zarv family. Two stone pedestals hold bronze busts of two past rulers of the county.

The characters stumble upon two bandits (Zarvish Front) fighting two soldiers (City Watch) when they ar­rive. Their attire helps identify which side they fight for. The characters’ arrival may take them by surprise, re­gardless of whose side they are on (Reaction check).

3. Ord Temple

A statue of Ord dominates the far end of this chap­el-like chamber. The benches are flanked by four alcoves that foster smaller, bronze Ord idols.

The characters find a friendly priest, Jules. He belongs to the Zarvish Front but he refuses to take part in any vi­olent act. He invites the heroes to sit and pray with him.

  • Pray. If the heroes spend 1 crawling round meditat­ing or praying, Ord’s power grants them a luck token.

4. Defense Mechanisms

Five gilded vases are in this switching corridor. Each vase is worth 10 gp but three of them hide a deadly, col­orless poison gas trap. Interacting with one of the boo­by-trapped vases triggers them. Targets in Near take 1d8 damage (DC 13 CON). The characters may spot the tiny orifices on the walls (DC 12 WIS) and avoid the gas by holding their breath when taking the vases.

5. Second Level Landing

The characters arrive at the second level of the com­pound. The room before them has three animated ar­mors ready to defend the place against trespassers.

6. Mesmerizing Orb

A beautiful crystal ball lies on a stone pedestal. Hypnotizing clouds, gold, and every mortal’s desire caress the surface of this mind-numbing sphere.

The characters may fall for the mesmerizing spell (DC 13 WIS). Victims approach the ball and fall to area 16.

7. Cell

The city’s compound has a single cell. It holds no pris­oners. However, the characters may open the gate and search it. There are 5 gp, a silver dagger, and a torch.

  • Crossbow. This automated weapon fires whenever a creature stands in front of it. The target takes 1d8 dam­age (DC 13 DEX). The weapon reloads every minute.

8. Library

The shelf, table, chair, and all the books and tomes in this area look well-conserved and clean of dust.

A permanent magic aura and an invisible servant keep this area orderly and impervious from the passage of time. The characters may spend 1 crawling round read­ing the documents here to learn a most-secret fact.

  • The True Zarv. Putting together and cross-referenc­ing several pieces of information from various books, scrolls, and pages reveals the suspicions are true. Elea­nor Zarv is not who she says she is. She is the niece of a wealthy noble and merchant in Zarveck City. Indigo Zarv is the legitimate heir. Some documents even speak on an assassination contract against Eleanor, 5 years ago.
  • Interruption. Three soldiers and one knight bran­dishing the city’s sigil arrive and accuse the heroes of robbery. They do not care whose side they are on.

9. Secret Chamber

The encounter causes a bookshelf to move a little and reveal a secret passage on the wall behind it. A teleporta­tion circle connected to area 10 is hidden there.

10. Third Level Landing

The characters reach the third level of the underground compound. The shelves contain logs, diaries, and docu­ments about the daily duties of the guards.

11. Barracks

The city sends guards here to make 24-hour-long shifts as punishment for underperforming or for receiving a sanction while on duty. There are three guards and three soldiers stationed here. They are jaded and bored. The characters may even convince them to join their cause if they work for the Zarvish Front (Reaction check).

12. Master Bedroom

The knight that was in charge of the guards is dead on the bed. His job was to monitor the people here and make sure they did their rounds. However, he was sent here as a punishment as well so he cared little about any­thing that occurred during his shift. The door is closed but unlocked. He was murdered in his sleep. Upon ap­proaching the bed to examine it the characters realize the man is dead. If the heroes search the knight’s cham­ber, they also notice that all valuables have been taken.

13. Ord Chapel

The far end of this room features a sacred shrine. Its sur­face is filled with gifts and offerings that believers leave to earn Ord’s blessing and honor the dead.

  • Encounter. The characters meet two soldiers and one priest here. The characters may convince them to join their cause if they work for the Zarvish Front (Re­action check). Otherwise, they must keep searching the place because these men are unaware of what happened to their captain in the adjacent chamber.

14. Fourth Level Landing

The granite walls become darker while a sepulchral atmosphere invades the lowest level of the dungeon.

Six sarcophagi rest by the walls of this chamber. A ghoul emerges from each enclosure but only when the lids are interacted with. The undead fight until destroyed.

  • Treasure (10 gp, 1 XP). Fine fabrics, silverware, and pieces of jewelry are found in each enclosure.

15. Funerary Plinths

A dozen plinths contain the ashes of Zarv servants, friends, and people who obtained the honor of being in­terred here. Members of the Zarvish Front search the area when the heroes arrive. Indigo Zarv (knight), three thugs, and two bandits see them coming.

The characters’s job is to stop Indigo and his men if it was the capital that sent them. If they work for the Zarvish Front, the rebel’s leader confesses he could not stay idle and leave it all to them. He believes the archive must hide more secrets. He yearns to learn the truth.

  • Treasure (1 XP). Each plinth contains 10 sp worth of offerings (12 gp total in all plinths). Shamelessly plun­dering this gold summons the ire of three shadows.

16. Acid Pool

The thick acid works as a cushion for the falling victims from area 6 and they take no damage from the fall.

  • Acid. Submerged creatures take 1d8 damage per round and 1d4 damage after they pull themselves out.
  • Phylactery. A tiny silver flask rests at the bottom of the acid. It is visible only by staring at the unmoving pool of acid. Detect magic reveals a necromancy aura.


Regardless of who sent them here, the characters become the countess and her entourage’s targets because of the bombshell they may soon drop. Law en­forcement and assassins look for them. Will they find a way to reveal the truth? Will Indigo take his rightful place as count? That is an adventure for another day…

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