709 Mausoleum of Cursed Scales – Lv5 Shadowdark Adventure

Do not underestimate an angry witch’s hex. Their primeval curses are persistent. They can even surpass the boundaries stipulated by life and death.

Wise Mages Lore

It was a long time ago when the members of the Gibbs family found themselves before the pointy end of a witch’s wand. When he was younger, Thierry Gibbs met an old lady who promised him wealth and a long healthy life.

That day, he only needed to give her a drop of his blood. The young man was happy to accept after the lady told him she would return for the other part of the payment in 10 years. Then, she would take his firstborn in return, re­gardless of the boy’s age. Thierry laughed because he did not even have a child back then, and he thought he would get away with mischief when the time came.

The Witch’s Part of the Deal

Thierry forgot his meeting with the witch a little af­ter it occurred. The witch came through, though. Thierry possesses incredible health and for some reason or an­other, he has never lacked gold, wealth, or luxuries. He became a father before turning 30. When his child was born he did not even recall having met the witch. But the witch remembered and one day, she returned.

Thierry’s Part of the Deal

The witch reappeared and told the man what they agreed upon 10 years ago. All Thierry got were faint flashbacks of their acquaintance but he did not recall having accepted such a deal. The witch replied with a raspy voice that he did not surprise her. It is a common behavior in mortals to bite more than they can chew. The woman asked Thierry to surrender his son a second time. She warned him about the grim consequences he would face if he did not fulfill his part of their deal.

The Scaled Curse

Thierry did not mind the woman’s words and simply went home. The next day, he woke up to see himself cov­ered in green scales. His son suffered the consequences of his actions as well. What was worse, Thierry’s mom, who still lived, was covered in scales as well. Little by lit­tle, his entire bloodline suffered the witch’s ire, and all the Gibbs family were turned into nasty reptiles. Thierry spent his whole life trying to find a cure, but he never did. And the mausoleum of cursed scales was born.

Adventure Hook

  • Vendetta. Thierry Gibb’s soul is filled with grudge. He feels cheated and his viperian family has come back from the dead to exact their revenge. The scaled undead have come out of the mausoleum at times and attacked travelers, merchants, and livestock alike. The characters are hired to get rid of all threats (6 XP, 80 gp).

Level 5 Adventure

  • Danger. Risky. Check for a Random Event every 2 crawling rounds and after loud noises (3-in-6 chance).
  • Light. Some areas have magical light sources; the rest are in darkness. The denizens are dark-adapted.
1 The characters stumble upon a ghost of a viperian ophid. The former Gibbs soldier cannot be reasoned with.
2 The characters encounter strange runes on the walls of the dungeon. They are written in Draconic. If a character understands what it says and pronounces the words out loud, they regain 1d6 hit points and gain a luck token. This only occurs once.
3 A fast, sudden air current traverses the entire dungeon. It extinguishes all non-magical sources of light instantly.
4 The characters notice a pressure-sensitive plate before them. If they stand on it, a blade swings sideways from the wall, dealing 1d10 damage to the person who triggered the trap (DC 15 DEX check). The trap resets every two crawling rounds.
5 A squad of six soldiers from town catches up with the characters, if the heroes let them, they wish to help.
6 Julian (thief) is a treasure-seeker. He would like some company but he is not sure of the characters’ intentions (Reaction).

Undead Viperian

The poor Gibbs remain cursed even after death. Their hearts beat no more yet their mangled bodies move and respond to their hate and thirst for blood. Use the viperian statblocks described on p. 262 but consider the following change: they are undead, vulnerable to the turn undead spell, and immune to morale checks.

1. Entrance by the Forested Hills

The Gibbs family became misfits of society; monsters among normal people. This eventually destroyed his bloodline. The Gibbs died off about a decade after they got cursed. Some took their lives, unable to bear or cope with their hideous looks. They were interred in the fam­ily’s mausoleum near the woods, a few miles from town.

2. Viperian Bouncers

There used to be a door but nothing remains of it. Four standing sarcophagi remain exposed to the weather.

  • Trap. A perceptive character notices the large trap­door before entering the room (DC 15 WIS). When three or more creatures stand on the pressure-sensitive plates, they collapse, and people above fall 45 feet (see area 6).
  • Guardians. Each sarcophagus holds a viperian. They emerge and attack when at least two creatures stand in the center of the room. They continue fighting if they fall through the central trap along with the intruders.

3. Prayers

The characters can spend a crawling round praying or meditating in this altar to Ord to obtain a luck token.

4. The Grim Descent

The door to this area is locked (DC 16 DEX). On a fail, the heroes spend a crawling round bypassing or destroy­ing the lock. After the door, on a corner, a shaft shows a long wooden ladder that descends to area 5.

  • Vault (3 XP). If the characters take their time and spend a crawling round searching this area they notice the barrels hide a plate that reveals a secret area. Inside, two chests contain nice clothes, trinkets, and bottles of wine that are worth 128 gp. Plus, one +1 silver dagger.

5. Second Level Landing

This area contains a bookshelf with common religious books, texts, and other popular literature. Beautiful, gold vases rest on the small niches that dot the corridor.

  • Pathway (3 XP). The characters find this secret area by pushing the right brick (DC 15 WIS). Inside, a weap­on rack holds several simple weapons and +1 mace.
  • Hatred. The ashes of many of the Gibbs were placed within the vases. Their spirits coalesce and come back to the world of the living in the shape of a viperian ophid.

6. Antechamber

Creatures that fall from area 2 take 4d6 damage from the fall (DC 14 DEX for half). This draws the attention of the viperian ophid in area 5. The double doors to area 7 brandish the Gibbs family crest; they are locked (DC 17 DEX). On a fail, the heroes spend a crawling round fig­uring out how to open or destroy them.

7. Locked Room

The characters find simple items: cheap fabrics, old clothes, and worthless baubles. But they find a potion of healing among the trash. They also find a piece of tat­tered parchment with the word ‘phindelbom’ on it.

8. Third Level Landing

After the hallway trap (see below), the characters see a humanoid figure standing on the central sarcophagus.

  • Pitfall Trap. If the characters fail to see the trap (DC 15 WIS), one of them falls 10 feet and gets impaled. They take 3d8 damage (DC 16 DEX for half).
  • Thierry. A restless soul does horrible things to an in­dividual after death. They become prone to evil and cor­ruption. Thierry’s memories are gone, the only thing he recalls in this state is the witch that betrayed him. He is obsessed; all people he sees have her face. Thierry’s ha­tred has turned him into a lich-like being (viperian wiz­ard). The souls of other members of his family coalesce from the funerary plinths beside him. Two viperians and one viperian ophid unleash their endless anger.

9. Offerings Altar

The characters may leave something of value or a small amount of gold at the altar to obtain a luck token.

10. Thierry’s Office

This room is locked (DC 17 DEX). On a fail, the heroes spend a crawling round figuring out how to enter. The word ‘phindelbom’ is the magic word to open the doors.

  • Research (2 XP). The journals mention healing mag­ic and the things Thierry tried but none of it worked. The heroes find 187 gp and 1,250 sp stored in the chests.

11. Fourth Level Landing

The alcoves of this wide corridor hold busts of old world leaders and kings. A common practice within tombs, mausoleums, and other funerary places.

12. Viperian Shrine

The Gibbs mausoleum features an underground chapel. The characters find Thierry’s spirit, calm and sad. They are free to destroy him or try to help him (see below).

  • Development. The heroes have a chance to condemn Thierry’s actions by making him understand he is the only one responsible for what happened. It was his self­ishness and recklessness leading to a wealthy life that cursed his family, not the witch. And it was his hatred that brought him and his family back from the dead as monsters. The GM may decide how this unfolds. Thier­ry’s soul could finally find eternal rest, or perhaps the he­roes prefer to destroy him. If this is the case, they fight Thierry again but this time he is gone for good. The witch must be surely having a good laugh at these events…

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