Hexcrawl Series No. 7 – Abyss of Spiritual Ascension

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

Traditions and costumes represent peoples. But two particular cultures could differ in many ways. Such is the case of the Dewborn and the realms of men.

Deep in the woods, beyond the Jade Palace and Greyshroom Town, lies the entrance of an ancient Dewborn temple. Hidden by the Misty Mountains’ skirts, a magical elevator disk descends into the darkness of the Abyss of Spiritual Ascension. A place where the Dewborn ritualistically sacrifice their most worthy foes.

Lore

After a battle, participants from opposite cultures proceed in contrasting ways. The Dewborn have particular characteristics that differentiate them from men when dealing with war prisoners.

The Dewborn execute most of the people they capture. But those who impress them in combat or earn their respect in other ways are taken to the Abyss of Spiritual Ascension, near the Misty Mountains. Inside, there is a dark pit where the Dewborn warriors call on a monster to devours the prisoners they bring.

This sadistic and cruel way to die isn’t regarded as punishment by the Dewborn, on the contrary. For them, enemies that showed great skill in battle have earned this “honorable” death.

The temple is connected to a network of underground tunnels under the Misty Mountains. There lies a horror unlike any other. “The Mass”, the Dewborn call it. A shapeless, oozy, acidic abomination that engulfs living matter that has the misfortune to be considered a worthy foe by the Dewborn. It is a grim affair.

The Dewborn believe that the monster is a sort of divine executioner that ascends the souls of those it eats to The Beyond, a place only the most honorable Dewborn can reach after death. This ritual sacrifice holds the highest of respects and admiration to the person about to die.

Brukesians have no information about this place. Those who have come never live to tell the tale. The practice of this tradition is unknown as well.

The Brukesian army could make great use of this information. But the chances of leaving unharmed are slim at most.

General Features

The Abyss of Spiritual Ascension is the name that the Dewborn gave to the temple. The bottom pit looks like an abyss from the upper two cylindrical levels. The spiritual ascension occurs in the darkest, lowest level.

Unless otherwise noted: Cracked tiles (hundreds of years old). Dim light (failing magical sconces on the temple walls). Stench of death (bones and remains at the lower level). Cave critters (spiders and centipedes). Isolation (feelings of loneliness and paranoia fill the minds).

D8 Random Encounters

1

1d10 dire rats, they carry a foul disease that dissolves flesh and bone

2

2d4 giant centipedes

3

2 spider swarms

4

4 Dewborn soldiers, before they attack, one screams “You don’t seek ascension, you earn it!”

5

1d8 giant spiders, two Dewborn rangers lay paralyzed and trapped under several layers of spiderwebs by the ceiling

6

3 wraiths, their ghostly figures wear Brukesian army uniforms

7

3 Dewborn soldiers, they have a Brukesian army officer captive who must ascend, according to their ways

8

1d6 giant bats

D8 Random Events

1

A gust of wind blows suddenly and extinguishes exposed light sources

2

Dense mist covers the temple for 1d4 hours, the floor is not visible

3

1d6 spirits fly and pass through the bodies of living creatures, leaving a freezing sensation for several minutes

4

Heat fills the temple for 1d4 hours, creatures sweat as if in a sweat lodge

5

The sound of something massive oozing underground is heard for a minute

6

Living creatures have the sensation of centipedes walking over their bodies for one minute

7

A forsaken spirit wails in the distance

8

A horrible scream comes from the

1. Elevator Disk

Concealed (hidden in the deep woods). Dewborn artifact (operated by ancient magic).

  • Entrance: The woods near the Misty Mountains’ skirts hide the Dewborn elevator. The magical disk responds to any kind of living presence and moves up or down accordingly. It moves slowly and makes a low hum. It can carry up to three people.

2. Dewborn Basins

Stone basins (granite and limestone).Clean water (clear and refreshing).

  • Magical water: Creatures that drink don’t require water or food for 24 hours. The magic water heals lesser wounds and provides a genuine sensation of a good night’s sleep.
  • Gluttony: Drinking for a second time from any of the basins is punished with a Dewborn psychological curse. For 1d6 days, hunger and thirst are never satiated regardless of the food ingested. Creatures feel the symptoms of starvation. Sickness from eating too much is still a possibility though.
  • Secret Door: A small lever hides under the northwest basin. Pulling the lever reveals the secret treasure room (area 3).
Gluttony Mummy

Overweight (unwieldy legs barely hold its massive body). Rotting flesh (reeks of death).

  • Punishment: Drinking from the three fountains or defiling them in any way awakens the gluttony mummy. The obese undead regurgitates rotten food consumed by cursed visitors while fighting. The pestilence is overwhelming.

3. Treasure Room

Stone chests (unlocked). Bookshelf (brimmed with papers).

  • Treasure: 472 gold pieces in assorted coins, one ruby (170 gp), a sapphire (100 gp), and crucial old scrolls on Dewborn traditions regarding “The Mass”.

4. Stairs

Monotonous (identical sections). Deep descent (60 feet underground).

  • Secret Door: The sconce on the wall at the first landing is a concealed lever. Pulling it reveals the secret passageway to the coffers (area 5).

5. Coffers

Stone chests (unlocked). Wooden table (Dewborn mundane objects).

  • Treasure: 261 gold pieces in assorted coins. A magical dagger is hidden in a compartment of one of the chests.
Poison Trap

Concealed (left chest’s lid). Poisoned darts (shot at the face).

  • Poison darts: Poisoned darts shoot at a 45 degrees angle from the chest’s open lid. Afflicted creatures feel weak. They stop moving in 1d4 hours, and they die after one day. A powerful cleric or healer can rid the afflicted creature of the poison with divine magic or remedies.

6. Dewborn Statues

Gold-coated (granite sculptures bathed in gold). Dewborn soldiers (war heroes). Obsidian obelisks (intact, immaculate).

  • The Abyss: The bottom of the pit is 20 feet below. The dim light from this level barely reaches the border of the circular balcony so the underground remains in complete darkness.

7. Monster Lair

Nest (warm and hidden). Petrified Dewborn (at the edge of the cave-in)

  • Basilisk’s Lair: A basilisk made this small cave its lair and laid 1d6 eggs a couple of weeks ago.
Look at Me

Reptilian (scaled body). Amber eyes (petrifying gaze).

  • Basilisk: It petrifies creatures that approach its nest. It doesn’t chase enemies if they leave it alone. Protecting the eggs is its top priority.

8. Caverns

Cold and humid (engulfed in darkness). Several tunnels (a viscous substance draws a meandering path).

  • Disgusting goo: The soil is stained by a thick and viscous goo. It smells of death and has a dark crimson color. It looks like semi-coagulated blood. Analyzing the liquid reveals there are small pieces of viscera, guts, and bones in it.
  • Poison: Touching the goo directly may inflict a disease that incapacitates its victim with horrible seizures and fits of regurgitation.

9. Dewborn Studio

Bookshelf (filled with Dewborn papers). Magical aura (from the south in area 10).

  • Dewborn traditions: The bookshelf contains documents that explain the Dewborn practices. One of them explains the ritual to summon “The Mass”. Names of famous Brukesian commanders and veterans who never returned home are written in an old log.

10. Magic Circle

Dewborn patterns (drawn on the circle). Ritual words (inscribed on the wall).

  • Ritual: A magic-user can understand the documents in area 9 to perform the ritual to summon “The Mass” here.

11. The Abyss

Death stench (it is the strongest in here). Bones and remains (scattered all over the ground).

  • Summoning Ritual: Upon activating the circle in area 10, the ground trembles, and the bubbling sound of a great body of water echoes underground. “The Mass” arrives after 1 minute.
Abomination

Shapeless (amorphous goo). Disgusting (made from guts and bones).

  • The Mass: The abomination is a mix of blood, flesh, and acidic goo. The creature that the Dewborn believe to be a demigod is nothing but a spawn from the deepest and darkest parts of hell.

12. Caverns

Cold and humid (engulfed in darkness). Sticky soil (traces of goo).

  • Remains: The ground of this area is stained with dry blood and rotten body parts. Bones and remains from previous victims litter almost every corner of the caverns.
  • Blood Leeches: Staying too long nearby the viscous goo attracts blood leeches, who crave warm, healthy blood and not the rotten remains they eat daily.

13. The Unknown

Cold and humid (engulfed in darkness). Uncharted lands (dangerous and harsh).

  • Uncharted tunnels: The amorphous abomination was born in the dark, unknown, and uncharted tunnels below the Misty Mountains. Brukesians have ignored the existence of The Mass for decades, who knows what other horrors inhabit the depths of the earth.

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