Kassoon

No Prep Adventure Path: Winter Magic Smugglers for D&D or RPGs

This adventure can be can be easily customized to a party of any size or level, or run as a level 1 adventure for 5 players. It can work as a small side adventure in an existing campaign, as a standalone one-shot, or the start of a new adventure. Use the [Customize] links to the tools in their relevant section to customize the adventure to your party.

Winter Festival

Background

The city of Bowrath is a popular destination at this time of the year, since the city hosts a large Winter Festival full of delicious food, interesting art, great games, and live performances. The city owes a large part of its success to the magic stone mines it's built over, since the country is filled with dead magic zones that cause magic to not function at all, or on the edge where disruptive wild magic is common. The magic stones are necessary to allow magic to function properly, making them popular in the dead zones. However, an illicit smuggling ring has been stealing the stones and exporting them to criminals in other cities, giving the local thieves guild an unfair cut of the profits. The success of the smuggling ring has caused the thieves to become even bolder and more reckless to keep the money flowing.

Start with each player introducing their character, giving a physical description, what class they're playing, and what their most cherished hopes and worst fears are (take note of these). As each player finishes their description, award them a point of Inspiration.

The winter festival is a bustling and vibrant event, filled with the energy and excitement of the warm season. The festival grounds are alive with the sounds of laughter and music, as people of all ages come together to celebrate and have fun. There are stalls and tents set up all around the grounds, selling all kinds of delicious food, from sweet fried dough, to savory snacks like BBQ monsters and tacos. There are also stalls selling handmade crafts and unique trinkets, with jewelry, pottery, and tie-dye clothing.

The carnival games are a big hit, with people trying their luck at everything from throwing rings onto bottles, shooting hoops, and whacking sock puppets. The real energy of the festival comes from the performances and entertainment. There are acrobats and jugglers, magicians and fire-breathers, all putting on mesmerizing shows that leave the crowds gasping in amazement. There are also live bands playing on the main stage, keeping the party going all day long.

The PCs are at a winter festival with various stalls selling food, crafts, and carnival games. Wild magic is affecting the grounds, causing surges (see Wild Magic Surge Generator) whenever spells are cast and other mishaps. Depending on what the PCs decide to do there are random fires, explosions, or other accidents. Foods can have strange flavors or temporary effects on anyone that eats them.

Play out anything the PCs want to do, improvising activities (and generating any NPCs) as needed, while including random wild magic mishaps in each activity. You may also want to use the Roleplay Cheat Sheet. After everyone has had a chance to participate, you can read out the next part:

As you're enjoying the festivities, you hear a loud commotion over the sounds of the music and games. You look over to see a group of guards shouting at another group of humanoids on a carriage. Both sides have their weapons drawn and aimed at each other in a tense stand-off, with both sides shouting threats and insults at each other. The guards order the group to drop their weapons and surrender, but it doesn't look like either side is going to back down.

The humanoids on the carriage are smugglers for the thieves guild, transporting stolen magic stones. They're more than capable of killing a couple guards and making a quick getaway without intervention, and they know it.

Ask the PCs what they're going to do, if they try to end things peacefully then run it as a skill challenge:

  • Have each PC describe what they're doing, and make an appropriate skill check at DC 10, or DC 15 if it's unlikely or outlandish.
  • On total success, the smugglers surrender and their carriage full of stolen stones is discovered. If questioned, the smugglers reveal that they were transporting the stolen stones for the thieves guild.
  • On partial success, the smugglers throw a magic stone and flee, causing a wild magic surge. If the PCs give chase you can run it as a second skill challenge, but each failure results in the PC taking 1d10 damage.
  • On failure, the smugglers attack. Use the combat group below.

If the PCs decide to attack (or the skill challenge is failed) then use the following combat:

1 Drow (CR: 1/4: Monster Manual p. 128), 1 Apprentice Wizard (CR: 1/4: Volo's Guide to Monsters p. 209), 1 Aarakocra Sharpshooter (CR: 1/2: Monster Module p. 3) (Hard, 40 XP each) [Customize]

During the combat, on initiative count 0 if any smugglers are still alive, then someone from within the carriage will throw a stone, causing a wild magic surge on a random combatant.

Afterwards, anyone the PCs ask/interrogate can tell them that the thieves guild operate out of the abandoned mines and are the most likely ones to be smuggling magic stones. If they ask about the stones, they allow and stabilize magic within various wild or dead zones. The surrounding countryside is full of unstable dead zones, and the likely cause of the wild magic at the festival. If the PCs need further convincing, the sheriff will offer them a reward for breaking up the smuggling ring.

Once the PCs head to the abandoned mine, read the following:

You enter into the abandoned mine, walking along a dark, damp, and narrow tunnel with rough stone walls. The tunnel slopes slightly downward to allow product to flow easily through it, with laborers carting mined stone up and down the gradual incline. After exploring the tunnels, you find a part where the wall has been deliberately caved in through a surprisingly thick stone wall, leading into what looks like an underground hideout.

Prison Hideout

Prison Of The Past

Prison Dungeon

The entrance was dug out by the thieves guild, and leads into their hideout within an abandoned underground prison. A DC 12 History check will recognize the prison, which was decommissioned when it was discovered that the warden was using the prison to perform magical experiments on the inmates.

The collapsed tunnel leads into an old, abandoned prison, with thick stone walls and small, dingy cells that appear to have been abandoned for a long time. Your footsteps echo on the floor as you walk the hall, and within one of the cells a translucent and spectral figure fades into existence, wailing as he shakes at the bars of his cell, before disappearing again.

The prison is filled with the magical echoes of the past, taking the form of prisoners and guards that occasionally fade in and out of view. The specters relive parts of their former lives, but aren't actually able to interact or harm anyone.

Within this hall is a trap. Bolts of static electricity crackle overhead at regular intervals, and will strike at anyone nearby.
Effect: Targets the lead PC, DC 13 Dexterity save or be struck for 1d10 force damage and dispel a magical effect on them or drain a spell slot.
Countermeasures: A successful DC 15 Arcana check allows a character to predict the lightning strikes from an occasional build-up of magical energy, allowing them to warn the others to take cover during the strike.

You come to a dingy canteen with rough stone walls and a low ceiling, lit by a few flickering candles which cast a dim and uneven light across the space. The room is filled with rough wooden tables and benches, on top of which sits a collection of bread, beer, and some roasted carcasses of cave monsters. A loud and boisterous bickering fills the canteen, coming from a group of thugs eating their meals with little regard for manners or etiquette.

There are 1 Soldier (CR: 1/2: Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica), 1 Noble (CR: 1/8: Monster Manual p. 348), 1 Kobold Inventor (CR: 1/4: Volo's Guide to Monsters p. 166), 1 Acolyte (CR: 1/4: Monster Manual p. 342) (Hard, 45 XP each) [Customize] here.

You enter into a small, dimly-lit guard post. There is a small window that looks out into a collapsed chamber, and now only shows rocks and rubble. Inside the room is a small table with a few battered chairs around it. On the table, there are a few ancient-looking scrolls and some old, rusted lanters. The room has a musty, old smell, and there is a feeling of eeriness and unease that seems to hang in the air. The flickering images of ghosts phase in and out of existence, whispering and wailing in the darkness.

Most of the scrolls are faded and illegible, but one is still in good enough condition to recite. If a player reads the scroll they're healed to full HP, but their max HP is reduced by 2 (twice their level) for the rest of the adventure.

The walls of this room are damp and covered in cobwebs. The only light comes from a few flickering torches that are mounted on the walls, casting long shadows across the room. In the center of the room, a pair of rough-looking thugs are gathered around a small table, playing cards and laughing raucously. A ghost occasionally appears and grasps at the cards, but the thugs seem unconcerned, and continue with their card game as if nothing is wrong.

There are 1 Tribal Warrior (CR: 1/8: Monster Manual p. 350), 1 Meazel (CR: 1: Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes p. 214) (Medium, 45 XP each) [Customize] here

You enter into a room with a long, smooth and damp tunnel in the ceiling that casts sunlight into the room. There are four trees in each corner, their branches reaching up towards the light. The trees are old and gnarled, with thick, twisted roots that have broken through the floor. One tree is is full of vibrant green leaves, another is dead bare branches, the third is growing cherry blossoms, and the last one is shedding red leaves onto the floor below. On a table in the center of the room are four ancient and weathered books, with leather covers that are worn and frayed. The room appears to be a dead-end, with no other exits.

There are four thick books in the room, but the pages are completely blank. In each corner of the room is a tree: one is is full of vibrant green leaves, another is dead bare branches, the third is growing cherry blossoms, and the last one is shedding red leaves onto the floor below.

To solve the puzzle, the players need to place a leaf, blossom, or branch into the books in the correct order and close them to "press" the leaf. The correct order is the four seasons: blossom, green leaf, red leaf, branch (or nothing). Doing so causes the wall to open a secret passage.

    If your players get stuck, have them make a DC 12 Intelligence Save (or DC 10 Nature) to receive a hint.
  • Clue 1: It looks like something needs to be pressed into the books
  • Clue 2: The leaves from the trees could be placed in the books in a certain order
  • Clue 3: The trees look like they relate to the four seasons

The secret entrance leads to a cramped room, with shelves and cabinets lining the walls with journals and ledgers. There's also several chests and trunks scattered about, which are filled with stolen loot and coins.

Within the journals are several plans and scams, written by the guild's assassin. They show evidence of the assassin stealing from the guild, and exporting several smuggling shipments to secret contacts in other towns, many of which include the magic stones, instead of their intended recipients.

If the coins are taken and stolen loot fenced or pawned, they get a total of 2400 cp, 1200 sp, and 130 gp. If the stolen loot is returned instead, but they keep the coins, then halve the total.

As the PCs leave the room, they trigger a stored spell:

Suddenly there's a pop and thrum, and you are enveloped in complete darkness that's completely impenetrable, preventing you from seeing anything around you. As you stand within the darkness, you begin to feel a creeping sense of fear and dread. Shadowy figures and unnerving noises emerge from the edges of the darkness, and you sense a feeling of cold and pressure on your chest.

The PCs are unable to see or hear each other in the darkness. You can choose to separate the players, or address them each in turn (you can roll initiative if you can't decide on an order). Each PC will be confronted with their worst fears that they described at the start of the session, and when they either confront or run from their fear then you can move on to the next PC. After each PC has dealt with their fears, the spell ends and the darkness fades. Every PC that chose to not confront their fears must make a DC 15 Cha save or be Frightened of everything for the rest of the adventure, otherwise they're unharmed.

When the PCs attempt to leave the hideout (possibly at the canteen or upon exiting the mines), they're confronted by the guild leader and cohorts:

A very fat male firbolg sits lounging in a chair, feeding bread to a grey rat hunching on his shoulder. His tight clothes strain to contain his girth, but he has a well-groomed appearance, with bright red hair and a neatly trimmed mustache. His two cohorts are holding bags stuffed to the brim with the magic stones, and stand menacingly in front of their boss.
The firbolg's lips smack loudly as he finishes chewing on a haunch of meat, "thought you could waltz right in and steal from me, did you?"

There are 1 Kobold (CR: 1/8: Monster Manual p. 195), 1 Magister Umbero Zastro (CR: 0: Waterdeep: Dragon Heist pg 82), 1 Xvart Warlock of Raxivort (CR: 1: Volo's Guide to Monsters p. 200) (Hard, 47 XP each) [Customize] here

During combat, the guild leader (the warlock) starts Prone 60 ft away and will remain seated unless he gets swarmed by the PCs. Each enemy has magic stones, which can be stolen with a successful Grapple check. A failed Grapple check will result in one of the stones dropping and shattering, which triggers a random wild magic surge. If any of the enemies have their stones stolen, they'll try to steal them back.

Conclusion

If the guild leader is defeated, the smuggling ring is disrupted in this town, but the assassin mentioned in the journals is nowhere to be found. Shortly after, the village becomes a dead zone for magic like much of the countryside, only functioning at all if you're nearby a magic stone. Demand for the magic stones skyrockets, which is a good boost for the local economy since the smuggling ring is no longer taking their cut. For their help, the PCs receive a magic stone each as well as the Pipes of the Sewers.

At the end of the adventure, the PCs all gain a level!

Next Part >

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