761 Heart of Decay

This adventuring supplement is designed for D&D5e. On out Patreon page you can get it in PDF format (see image). The downloads include hi-res images for the maps. And there is a variant PDF version designed for Shadowdark RPG.

The Cycle of Life cannot be stopped. Its ultimate phase, though, that of rot and decay, can be bypassed by vanquishing the fey spirit that brings it forth.

Ancient Fey Scripture

In the depths of a gargantuan flower that blooms and withers with the forest around it, hides an entity known as the Avatar of Rot. It is a primal spirit from the Feywild, a mindless energy that cannot be reasoned with. Once every millen­nium, it brings forth a period of accelerated decay and blight. If left to its own devices, it quickly consumes all living matter in the region. But it does not have to be this way. The whole cycle depends on the material projection of the Avatar of Rot underneath the Heart of Decay. As in other eras, mighty warriors can descend into the half-liv­ing dungeon and aspire to defeat the Feywild avatar.

Alas, accessing this arcane location is no easy task (see Reaching the Heart). An impassable wall of magi­cal force surrounds the cursed blooming flower. The fey settlers, poisoned by its powdery rot, have not been able to approach the Heart of Decay as of this day.

Level 4 Adventure

  • Danger. Risky. Check for a Random Encounter every 20 minutes and after loud noises (3-in-6 chance).
  • The Rot. The air beyond the wall of force is saturat­ed with the powdery substance that withers plants and lungs. Breathing it causes intense coughing once every 4 hours (DC 15 Constitution). Pure fey beings suffer from seizures after 24 hours of continued exposure.
  • sounds. A pulsing, heart-like, pumping sound comes from the strange, half-living walls of this dungeon.

Reaching the Heart

The characters have a first glimpse of the Heart of Decay as they travel the Trail of Gossamer toward Satyr Grove. At this point of their adventure, there is no way for the characters to enter this dungeon as the wall of force effect that surrounds it cannot be breached. They must carry on west to Satyr Grove to learn more.

The characters must do the following to gain access to this last challenge in El-Unore Reaches:

  • Visit Satyr Grove and experience the Dream of the Fey with Witness Farenhall. Learn about the three orbs of power that must be removed or dealt with.
  • Explore the three temples in the realm where arcane orbs are hidden within and must be removed.
  • Visit Stargazer Summit to learn the fey rituals etched on the eons-old monoliths. One of them is the Dream of the Eladrin Fey. After disabling the three orbs, a spellcaster can use it to command the dormant power of the orbs and dispel the wall of force that surrounds the Heart of Decay; thus gaining access to the dungeon.
1 Two giant spiders emerge from buried burrows and attempt an ambush. The spiders attempt to pull them into the burrow.
2 A tunnel suddenly collapses in a gut-like motion. Nearby creatures may be crushed within (DC 14 Dexterity or 4d6 damage).
3 Four elves (myconids), their bodies taken over by mycelium, stumble toward the characters intending to consume them.
4 The giant bloom (area 2) starts to open and release powdery rot into the forest. It causes the dungeon to be over-saturated with the rot dust. Creatures take 4d6 damage (DC 14 Constitution) unless they shield their nose and eyes for 10 minutes.
5 A vivid vision assails the characters. An androgynous being whose body consists of rotting matter and fungal growth stands by a pond of viscous ichor. The Avatar of Rot issues a telepathic challenge: “Insignificant bugs. You cannot stop the Cycle of Life.
6 Four human thugs from Y’renlune arrive at the dungeon to aid the characters after hearing of their brave deeds.

1. Dead Petals

For weeks, the Feywild flower of rot has bloomed and withered. Around the bulging bud, there are layers upon layers of dead, rotting petals. Each has a fibrous texture like dry hemp. They produce a rather disgusting stench.

2. The Flower Bud

A 60-foot-tall flower bud pulses, like a beating heart. It is surrounded by countless sheddings of fibrous petals. A dark opening sits by its pulsing base.

The characters are the first living creatures to approach the Heart of Decay since it emerged. The opening leads down a spiraling path that reaches area 3.

  • The Bud. The flower is of bulbous, fleshy tissue. If damaged, it secretes a noxious fluid and heals itself in minutes. The self-healing is strong enough that destroy­ing the flower bud is not feasible. It resembles a species of parasitic orchids found in the wild (DC 13 Nature).

3. Half-Living Landing

Fleshy, pulsing, vein-like pipelines cross the floor of this chamber. As the tubes split into thinner veins, they reach downward, into the abyss. The fruiting bodies of strange fungi appear to feed from them.

  • The Veins. Like the flower bud in area 2, the fleshy structures can be easily damaged but they heal them­selves at an astonishing rate. The thick fluid they trans­port is akin to an insect’s hemolymph; its purpose is to nourish the flower bud above (DC 13 Arcana). Direct contact with the lymph deals 1 damage. Living creatures that drink the lymph drop to 0 HP and start dying.
  • Fungal Forms. Six ravenous myconids feed from cuttings in the floor veins. They are distracted by feeding. The characters can attempt to ambush them as they de­scend the stairs (DC 14 Stealth check). The mushroom­folk are loyal to the Avatar of Rot and defend this cham­ber from trespassers. They fight to the death.

4. North Spider Colony

The chamber is covered in a network of thick spider­webs. A rock of shifting mass moves about, trapped in the center of the webs, surrounded by spiders.

An earth elemental is trapped in the webs. The spiders cannot eat it. There are four giant spiders and two spi­der swarms in the cavern. Setting the chamber on fire kills the small spiders, deals 2d6 damage to their larg­er kin (2-in-6 chance they flee), and frees the elemental.

  • Gratitude. If the characters free the earth elemen­tal during the battle, it is intelligent enough to recog­nize them as allies, targeting only the spiders in combat. Once the spiders are destroyed, the earth elemental may stay around to attack the spiders in area 5 as it hates them. Otherwise, it bids the party farewell in Primordial.
  • Treasure. Buried in an old web cocoon are the re­mains of an elf. A +1 spear lies by his hand bones.

5. South Spider Colony

This chamber, akin to area 4, contains a smaller colony. Two giant spiders and a spider swarm attack intruders. Setting the cave on fire kills the small spiders and deals 2d6 damage to their larger kin (2-in-6 chance they flee).

  • Treasure. Spending 10 minutes inspecting the cham­ber yields a pouch of four hundred ball bearings, an el­vish +1 longsword, and a gem of seeing.

6. Forlorn Mementos

Gilded urns on pedestals rest eternally in this make­shift burial place. The urns bear Sylvan scriptures.

  • The Vases. A character that knows Sylvan can spend 10 minutes deciphering the etchings on the urns. They tell the story of a group of fey adventurers that were faced with the same predicament as the characters as the Heart of Decay emerged in their time, 2,000 years ago. They failed to vanquish the Avatar of Rot and per­ished from the lung rot when escaping. Two of them rise as bitter undead abominations (wraiths).
  • Treasure. Each pedestal has a drawer; they contain 850 gp, 670 sp, a potion of heroism, a +1 dagger, a neck­lace of adaptation, and two random Wizard scrolls.

7. Flowery Effigies

Six marble, eight-petal flower effigies stand by the irregular, dark walls of this cavern chamber

  • Vision. Touching any of the statues projects vivid im­agery into the mind. The characters witness a group of centaurs and satyrs that came here 3,000 years ago. They placed these effigies as a form of seal to prevent the re-emergence of the Avatar of Rot. Alas, their efforts were insufficient; the magic in the effigies faded long ago.

8. The Avatar of Rot

Fleshy leaf pads surround a bubbling pond of dark ichor. A shimmering gemstone floats one foot above the pond. Eddies and strands of powdery rot and arcane vibrations surround this place. A cursed bed of gnawed bones of many ancestries lies at its feet.

  • The Gemstone. This artifact exists in both the Mate­rial Plane and the Feywild, it is impervious to damage. The Avatar of Rot uses this gem as a focus to manifest physically. It may only do so once per millennium.
  • The Pond. This is the concentrated source of the powdery rot and the hemolymph that feeds the flower bud on the surface. Touching it causes living creatures to drop to 0 HP and start dying (DC 18 Constitution).
  • The Avatar of Rot. It emerges from the ichor pond, a 12-foot-tall, androgynous being. Its body is made from rot incarnate and fungal growths. It is the physical rep­resentation of a primal force from the Feywild. It is not inherently evil but truly dangerous to living creatures. If the characters gained the Eladrin’s Blessing before com­ing, they have advantage against the Rot Mist ability.
  • The Bones. Two skeletons rise from the bed of bones as the battle begins. One more skeleton awakens each subsequent round until a total of eight have risen.

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