Hexcrawl Series No. 11 – The Sword Vault

This adventure is part of the Brukesian Duchy Hexcrawl. Find more about it here!

An ancient vault built by an extinct civilization awaits dormant in the northern reaches of the Brukesian Duchy. Its creators were the precursors of modern humans in the south. Little remains of their history and culture. They are nothing but a suggestion in the wind. A particle of sand lost in the ocean of time. The vault contains an important artifact, a legendary greatsword. A valiant hero used this sword to perform deeds worthy of kings, all of them now forgotten.

Lore

The ancient vault of mankind’s precursors was originally a large underground complex that the earth swallowed thousands of years ago.

It is a miracle or a coincidence of fate that the room that guards the legendary sword is the only chamber that remains somewhat unharmed by the passage of time. The rest of the complex has collapsed and disappeared under tons of rocks and soil.

The sword vault is currently accessible but that may change soon. The earth is bound to quake again someday and return the vault to the obscurity of the depths. The sword vault is located directly under a known druidic gathering place. The Brukesians call it the Thorny Hill. It is a popular place among humans and Dewborn druids and rangers. The druids believe Thorny Hill is attuned to a strange force of nature that enhances their spells and transformation magic.

The druids ignore the existence of the sword, which is the true source of the unending flow of energy that empowers their rituals. Over the course of centuries, druid circles have attributed this phenomenon to varied sources: the moon, the stars, the verdant force of the forest, the strength of the mountains.

Things are sure to change soon. As if the sword called for its own discovery, lightning struck the top of Thorny Hill recently and cracked the stone at the top. The lightning scarred stone revealed a path into the depths and the sword vault.

Adventurers or druids might soon discover this is not the only entrance to the vault. A tunnel from the Underdark connects to it too. Predatory myconids visit the vault from time to time, heeding the call of the regional fungal node there.

General Features

The path north is trail seldom used, wide enough for a single horse or hand-drawn cart. A 30-foot-tall rocky hill overlooks the road. The druids carved druidic runes on the rocks that only they can read.

Rich soil (great for farming but undeveloped). Duchy’s disregard (Crimsonwall cannot protect this place). Druid territory (plants and animals may be spies)

The Sword Vault:

Fungal infection (most surfaces covered by moss and fungi). Granite flooring (cracked and eroded). Magical braziers (operational even after eons).

D8 Random Encounters

1

1d3 starved predator myconids roam the caves looking for easy food, 2-in-6 chance Barbuk, the myconid, talks to them and persuades them to behave

2

2d4 giant centipedes

3

1 black pudding filters through a crack and attacks

4

A vermin swarm attacks viciously

5

2 spider swarms

6

1 wraith, its ghostly figure wears unrecognizable armor and sigils, it speaks an unknown language

7

1d6 mindless myconids consume an animal carcass in a cave, they attack others if they approach within 30 feet

8

2d4 druids descend into the vault and attempt to claim it as their own

D8 Random Events

1

A gust of wind blows suddenly and extinguishes exposed light sources

2

Dense mist covers the vault and caves for 1d4 hours, the floor is not visible

3

Unnatural cold fills the underground area for 1d6 hours. Exhaling creates visible vapor and humidity

4

A lonely myconid wails in the distance

5

A piercing scream comes from the sword vault area

6

Fungal growth on the wall may be harvested for one ration

7

Acidic brine falls from the ceiling. It spoils rations in a random bag pack

8

An irate spirit threatens to possess a random adventurer

1. South Road

Seldom-traveled road (sparse footprints, cart-tracks). Animal behavior (animals befriended by the druids are pacified and calm close to Thorny Hill).

  • Forsaken road. Brukesians soldiers from the Ashen Citadel seldom travel this far north. Dewborn druids control these lands most of the time. The northern tribesmen take control during the winter when they migrate south.

2. North Road

Seldom-traveled road (sparse footprints). Animal behavior (animals befriended by the druids are pacified and calm close to Thorny Hill).

  • Druidic Control. The druids that claim the region know that the artifact under Thorny Hill has revealed its power. They have not yet visited the vault but their animal spies roam the area and inform them of any suspicious activity.

3. Rocky Hilltop

Rock formations (stones revealed by seismic activity). Stone Platform (cracked and eroded).

  • The Crack. A lightning-strike crack on the stone platform revealed a hole. The shaft descends 50 feet to a dark cave.
  • Guardians. A conspiracy of ravens, a bear, and a honey badger attempt to drive off travelers from Thorny Hill.

4. Cavern Complex

Earth walls and roof (riddled with roots and stones). Uneven soil level (walking is difficult). Unstable tunnel (faulty structure and evidence of recent cave-ins).

  • The Descent. The crack on Thorny Hill is wide enough for a single humanoid to descend. Climbing down without gear carries a 2-in-6 chance of falling. The use of climbing gear to rappel down to the cave carries no risk.
Four Carnivorous Centipedes

Oversized (3 feet long). Colorful exoskeletons (Orange-stripped). Sharp fangs (black and venomous). Dark prowlers (move silently in the dark).

  • Predatory Diet. Vicious centipedes attack the first visitor immediately upon arrival. The centipedes are carnivorous and compete with the dense fungal life-forms in the area for prey.
  • Reaction. The centipedes attack creatures when they descend from the shaft. They recklessly attack until slain.

5. The Immobile Myconid

Earth walls and roof (riddled with roots and mycelia). Unstable tunnel (evidence of recent cave-ins). Warmer alcove (increased heat from fungal activity).

  • Fungal Growth. Strands of mycelium converge on the north wall of this chamber on a complex fungal life-form. The fungi in the area took over the cave and vault decades ago but have no interest in the sword. Most myconids creatures in the area are mindless but one.
Barbuk, the Myconid

Immobile (embedded to the wall). Sentient (Barbuk is a telepath). Enhanced perception (uses fungus in the region to perceive its surroundings).

  • Main Node. Barbuk is an important regional brain for the fungal creatures. All myconid minds connect to it. It cannot control other myconids but they are heavily influenced by Barbuk’s wishes.
  • Reaction. Barbuk is a neutral entity in the vault. If attacked, it can summon all myconids in a 15-mile radius to itself.

6. The Sword Vault

Pearl-like inlays (floor decorations of unidentifiable material). Glowing dais (dim light with no apparent source). Hand-carved ceiling (elaborate runes in a good state of conservation).

  • The Pedestal. A stone platform by the west wall holds the legendary sword of humanity’s precursors. The sword radiates a magical aura. It shall reveal its true power and purpose to a worthy individual. Such a person may not yet exist.
Three Sword Guardians

Ghastly existence (incorporeal undead). Unidentifiable sigils (ethereal armors with ancient symbols). Eternal purpose (protect the sword from the unworthy).

  • The Precursors. Three spirits of humankind’s ancestors coalesce into existence to protect the sword. Their void swords absorb their foes’ life force.
  • Reaction. The sword guardians move as if dancing slowly. Their joint attacks are fast and precise. They spare no one. They fight until slain.

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