I don’t know what to do anymore. This has gone too far. Please, help me stop Moriarty!
Wizards and mages all over the world spend their entire lifetimes researching the arcane arts. They wish to see the unknown, discover the mysteries of the universe. This story is about Nicholas Moriarty, a sorcerer.
Nicholas Moriarty spent most of his teenage years secluded from society. He performed simple tricks of magic alone and mastered them over time. His parents were afraid of his uncanny powers; not knowing how to deal with their son’s magical abilities. The townsfolk fear the strange flames and colors that Moriarty’s hands produce. The cruel people branded him a cursed child.
After his parents’ passing, Moriarty roamed the world. One day, he found the essence of a demon within a statue. It lied within an abandoned underground complex in the deepest parts of Dark Willow Forest. He made it his new home and hideout. The sorcerer plans to take over all living energies in the forest. He requires lots of arcane power to bring the demon into this world.
Moriarty made a friend one day, Edward Mill. The young man admired Moriarty and wished to learn from him. Of course, the evil mage hid his dire ambitions from his apprentice; Edward worked for Moriarty for a couple of years believing they were saving the forest from taint.
However, Edward knows of his teacher’s plans now. He thinks he made a big mistake and wishes to stop Moriarty. He cannot do it alone, though. In secret, he sent a raven to nearby towns to warn them and inform them about the sorcerer’s plans. He hopes to be heard.
The Woodlands Spirit
Dark WillowForest lives and thrives thanks to the Woodlands spirit that inhabits it. All living creatures in the woods bask in the spirit’s glowing aura of warmth.
This all changed with Moriarty’s plans. He performed a ritual to bind the Woodlands spirit to an area within his hideout. Slowly, the sorcerer siphons the spirit’s force. With this arcane energy, Moriarty plans to decimate the forest. Moriarty shall leave the spirit lifeless if this goes on. In the meanwhile, the spirit fights. It tries to free itself from Moriarty’s grasp, but it needs help to succeed.
The characters may get involved in this adventure in two manners. They learn of Moriarty’s plans from Edward’s letters in a town close to Dark Willow Forest. Or, a character, preferably a druid or ranger, is directly contacted by the Woodlands spirit and asked for help.
Features of Moriarty’s Hideout
The following features correspond to Moriarty’s Hideout; areas 1 through 12.
Light. Sconces with continual flame spells in them illuminate the hideout. Their magic fades if removed.
Secret Passageways. An observant character finds all hidden levers, switches, and pushable bricks for secret passageways and doors (DC 17 Perception).
Enraged Roots. The hideout’s chambers are pierced by many of the spirit’s roots. In their rage, the roots attack any creature within their reach. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 2d8 + 4 slashing damage. Each root has 25 hit points and 12 AC.
1. Hideout’s Entrance
After hours of walking in the muddy Dark Willow Forest, a trapdoor hidden beside an ancient willow takes to a double wooden door under the tree roots.
When the characters trespass the threshold, they activate a silent alarm spell. This informs Moriarty of their presence. The sorcerer hides in area 12 and waits to see if the intruders cross the portal in area 7.
Constructs. Two animated armors attempt to make a character fall through the trap 15 feet in front of them.
Trap. Characters that step on the pressure-sensitive tile fall to the spiked pit in area 9 (DC 17 Dexterity).
Moriarty’s pact with the demon granted him the power to summon undead guardians. Two shadows and two specters come out of the columns and attack intruders.
Trapdoor. A hand ladder descends 30 feet and leads to area 8. This trapdoor is locked (DC 18 Thieves’ Tools).
3. Woodlands Spirit Avatar
A 30-foot-tall towering figure of leaves, roots, twigs, bark, fungi, and bone oversees this chamber. A large metal cage lies beside two rows of benches.
Moriarty bound the spirit of the forest here. The chamber siphons its energy little by little. The spirit fights to free itself but all attempts have been in vain so far.
Roots. The roots below the effigy pierce the ground and walls. They are the most present in this area. Five enraged roots attack creatures within 15 feet of the effigy. If destroyed, they regenerate after one minute.
Woodlands Spirit. The characters may try to commune with the spirit of the forest and calm it down. A druid, ranger, or similar can spend 10 minutes meditating before the Woodlands spirit and communicate their intentions. Roots stop attacking while this meditation takes place. If the characters state their intention to help, the spirit manages to control its enraged roots in every area of the dungeon and does not attack them.
Moriarty keeps books and tomes regarding the arcane and old necromancy. A curious character can spend an hour studying these documents to know of the ritual Moriarty used to bind the Woodlands spirit in area 3.
Roots. Four roots attack creatures that walk within 15 feet of them. The roots do not attack if the characters made peace with the Woodlands spirit (see area 3).
Trap. If creatures fail to see the pressure-sensitive tiles under them (DC 17 Perception), the walls shoot darts and poison them for one (DC 18 Constitution).
This room is a small continuation of the library. To the east, a set of stairs descends to Moriarty’s main hall.
Roots. Three roots attack creatures in this area.
Treasure. A curious character finds valuable titles among the many documents on the shelves. The lot is worth 1,250 gp to a collector (DC 16 Investigation).
6. Main Hall
Moriarty’s undead guardians attack creatures that come here. Two wraiths emerge from the columns and attack intruders. The undead do their best to guard the door to area 7. They do not chase the characters further.
Roots. Three roots attack creatures in this area.
Altar. The engraved stone altar has a spellbook with five sorcerer spells of the GM’s choice, one arcane implement, a steel dagger, and a pouch of rare ingredients.
Treasure. The chest inside the secret chamber beside the altar contains 1,500 gp worth of delicate silverware pieces, jewelry, and expensive fabrics and linens.
7. Green Portal
A gate to the unknown sheds a faint green light. The liquid-like mirror’s surface shows a hundred wrinkles that shift and turn over and over.
The portal does not show any sign of danger. An augury spell does not warn against crossing it either. This is all part of the evil sorcerer’s plan, though (see area 11).
Portal. Creatures that go through the portal are immediately teleported to area 11 with all their belongings.
Trap. If creatures fail to see the pressure-sensitive tile before the portal (DC 17 Perception), the swing of an axe deals 4d8 slashing damage (DC 18 Dexterity for half).
Treasure. The chests in the hidden room beside the portal contain 3,000 gp and a +1 dagger.
8. Linking Chamber
This secret area connects several parts of the dungeon. However, two of the exits here are secret passageways.
Roots. Two roots attack creatures in this area.
9. Spiked Pit Chamber
Moriarty’s helper and apprentice, Edward, is locked here. His teacher learned of the letters he sent and decided to put him here for a while to deal with him later.
Edward. The apprentice swears loyalty to the characters the moment he sees them. He doesn’t want to help Moriarty anymore and is willing to help them stop him.
Spiked Pit. If someone falls from area 1, Edward assumes someone got his letter or came to help. He casts a feather fall spell on any falling creature to make a good first impression whenever he offers his help.
10. Storage Room
Moriarty uses this area of the dungeon for storage. There are wooden crates and two chests. There seems to be nothing of value in this chamber at first glance.
Treasure. If the characters spend an hour searching, they find a secret compartment in the stone chest’s bottom. It contains a sturdy dragonbone circlet that hums with melodic music (900gp), a framed painting of a gryphon (180gp), and a silver ring with an amethyst (90 gp).
11. Blue Portal
Use the description of area 7 to describe this area.
When the characters get here, Moriarty patiently waits in area 12 until they fall for the illusion (see below).
Illusion. The treasure here is a major illusion spell. The platform before the six chests breaks when two or more Medium creatures stand on it. Falling creatures take 4d6 slashing damage from the bars at the top of the cage and 3d6 bludgeoning damage from the fall.
12. Demon’s Statue
The statue of a 10-foot-tall winged demon rests on a pedestal. An aura of uneasiness and nausea strikes those that stare at the demon’s eyes for too long.
This statue is a physical representation of a demon from the Abyss. The sorcerer has heeded the demon’s evil advice for months. Moriarty is beyond salvation now; his sole goal is to absorb the energy of the Woodlands spirit and end with all life that comes with it. The energy acquired would allow Moriarty to perform a powerful ritual, capable of bringing the demon to this world. Edward does not know about this. He just knows of the possibility of destroying Dark Willow Forest as it exists now.
Final Confrontation. Moriarty (mage) waits for the intruders to fall into the trap in area 11. If that occurs, he comes out of this chamber and blasts the injured intruders in the cage with his powerful spells. Otherwise, if the characters find the secret passage in area 3, Moriarty fights in this chamber. The sorcerer does not fight alone. He summons one invisible stalker and two shadows to fight alongside him. All of them fight until slain.
Magic Circle. Moriarty uses this chamber to perform his most powerful rituals, like the one he used to bind the Woodlands spirit. An arcane spellcaster can spend 10 minutes attuning to the circle. Doing so allows the caster to maximize the effects of a single spell they know. Material costs for this spell are reduced in half if any.
Unexpected Ally. If the characters made peace with the Woodlands spirit, and the final confrontation takes place in area 3, the roots attack Moriarty and his goons.
Human (age 29)
Edward (apprentice mage) had no friends and spent most of his time alone when he was young. He left his home at the age of 20 and roamed the world for years. One day, he met Moriarty in Dark Willow Forest. They met by mere chance. Moriarty noticed Edward’s potential and accepted him as his apprentice. They have worked together for a while now but Edward regrets this decision since the day the Woodlands Spirit was bound to the effigy in area 3. He doesn’t want to be part of this.
Manner. Edward says and repeats “I’m sorry” and “this is all my fault” at the end of every sentence.
Ambition. The young apprentice wishes to stop Moriarty at all costs. He feels partially responsible.
The characters reach the end of this adventure and face the consequences of their deeds.
The Woodlands Spirit is Saved
The characters defeat Moriarty. The Woodlands spirit is freed from its binds and leaves the dungeon. The effigy in area 3 decays and so do the roots that pierced several areas of the hideout. The spirit rewards the characters with a staff of the woodlands. The demonic statue is harmless without anyone to corrupt. It can be destroyed or abandoned. In the end, Edward’s letters and his involvement in this adventure have made a difference. It is up to the characters how to judge him.
Moriarty Destroys the Forest
The characters fail to stop Moriarty. They die in combat or must flee to save their lives. The evil sorcerer siphons the last remnants of the Woodlands spirit’s life force and acquires the energy to bring the demon to this world. The aftermath of this ritual is a cataclysm that destroys Dark Hollow Forest by withering all life in it. The demon, named Ba’Hazsha, kills and consumes Moriarty on the spot after setting foot on this world. The demon shall remember those who tried to stop his coming…