Kassoon

No Prep Module: Cryptic Conspiracies (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 3 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.

Undead Army

Start with a week of downtime and choose something from each PC's backstory to advance and connect to the adventure. A relative, contact, or rival could be involved, or something pertaining to one of their character's goals can be progressed by something in the adventure. If a PC has no hooks in their backstory, use the downtime to establish what one of these might be instead: have someone ask about a relative, introduce a rival, or ask about their character's goals. If this is the first (or only) session with these characters, you can skip this.

1

As you step into the sunlit courtyard, a cacophony of laughter and music greets your ears. Silken banners flutter above like chromatic serpents in the breeze, and a riot of colors dances before your eyes as guests clad in their finest meander about. A distinct aroma of roasting meats and sweet confections lingers in the air, teasing your nostrils with promises of indulgence. In the center, a large fountain, with waters as clear as diamonds, spills forth its crystal cascade. Beside it, a bearded man in motley attire juggles an improbable number of multicolored orbs, his motions fluid and hypnotic.

The PCs start at a festival for the local village. Allow them to roleplay and interact with the townsfolk for as long as you like, to help them get warmed up.

Puzzle. An NPC asks a riddle and helps the PCs if they get it right: I am a word of 5 letters and people eat me. If you remove the first letter I become a form of energy. Remove the first two and I’m needed to live. Scramble the last 3 and you can drink me. What am I? A: Wheat, heat, eat, tea.

If the puzzle is solved, they find 15 sp [Customize]

Continue: leads to #2

2

As the festivities continue, a sudden hush falls over the courtyard. The once-lively music fades to an eerie silence. The guests, frozen in place, exchange uneasy glances. A low, guttural growl rumbles in the distance, growing louder and more menacing with each passing moment. Shadows creep along the edges of the courtyard like tendrils of darkness, and the air grows colder, heavy with foreboding. The ground shudders beneath your feet as the first wave of skeletal warriors bursts forth from the earth, their bony fingers clawing at the once-pristine cobblestones. Fear grips the guests as they scatter, seeking refuge from the encroaching horror.

Encounter. There's 1 Warhorse Skeleton (CR 1/2: Monster Manual p. 273), 1 Skeletal Swarm (CR 2: Ghosts of Saltmarsh), 2 Skeleton (CR 1/4: Monster Manual p. 272), 1 Death's Head (CR 1/2: Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft pg 232) (Hard, 150 XP each) [Customize] here.

Treasure. 14 gp [Customize]

After the combat, all the guests will have fled thanks to the PC's defense, and they'll be approached by a male human named the Veiled Seer who encourages them to flee the undead onslaught with the rest of the guests.

Description: He is of a modest build and height, but he carries himself with an enigmatic air. He wears a grey mask and an oversized grey robe that obscures his features.

    What he knows:
  • The leader of the undead army is Mordek
  • It's likely that taking over this town is just a first step in his undead conquest
  • There's legend of an artifact hidden within a maze deep underground, which could help defeat Mordek
  • The artifact was entombed with the founders of the town, who used it to repel an otherworldly invasion

If the PCs accept, they can travel to the tomb. You can either play out the travel, or skip right to the tomb, based on the preferences of your group.

Travel: leads to #7

Skip: leads to #3

3

As you descend into the dimly lit depths, the air grows damp and cool, with the faint scent of moss and ancient earth enveloping you. The rough stone walls press close, their surfaces etched by the passage of time, guiding you deeper into the heart of the underground labyrinth. Echoes of your footsteps resonate through the winding passages, punctuated by the occasional drip of water from unseen sources. The flickering light from your torch casts shadows that dance and sway, creating an ever-shifting tapestry of darkness on the walls. Soon, you come upon a vast chamber, its high ceiling obscured by the darkness above.

Encounter. There's 1 Kobold Scale Sorcerer (CR 1: Volo's Guide to Monsters p. 167), 1 Choker (CR 1: Tales from the Yawning Portal p. 232), 1 Kobold Dragonshield (CR 1: Volo's Guide to Monsters p. 165) [Hard, 600 XP rewarded] [Customize] here.

Treasure. 16 sp [Customize]

West: leads to #6

East: (green) is a massive pit (60 ft deep and wide) that spans the entire path with no floor or ledges leads to #8

North: leads to #4

4

The chamber ahead is bathed in an ethereal glow, casting the stone walls in shades of blue and silver. Intricate patterns, like threads of moonlight, trace their way along the floor and up the walls, converging at a central point on the ceiling. The space is filled with an array of objects - shields, spears, and other implements of battle - each suspended in mid-air and seemingly frozen in a tableau of an unseen conflict. Though these artifacts appear solid, their edges shimmer with a faint iridescence, as if they might dissolve at the slightest touch. Along the walls, armor stands hold suits of gleaming plate, the metal polished to a mirror finish, reflecting a thousand distorted images of the room.

Trap. This trap is activated when an intruder steps on a hidden pressure plate that releases the spell stored within the trapped object.

Effect: DC 11 Dexterity save or the target and all adjacent creatures take 1d6 force damage.

Trigger: pressure plate, activates when 20 or more pounds are placed on it.

Countermeasures: A successful DC 10 Wisdom (Perception) check will spot the pressure plate, and wedging an iron spike or other object under the pressure plate prevents the trap from activating.

Casting dispel magic (DC 15) on the trap will cancel the stored spell. [Customize]

Treasure. 2100 cp, 300 sp, 50 gp, Potion of clairvoyance, Elixir of health, Potion of superior healing,

25 gp valuables (150 gp total): Small mirror set in a painted wooden frame, Embroidered silk handkerchief, Carved bone statuette, 2 Pair of engraved bone dice, and Copper chalice with silver filigree [Customize]

West: leads to #5

South: leads to #3

5

As you venture deeper into the labyrinth, you enter a chamber where roots and vines intertwine with the rough stone walls, creating a verdant tapestry that seems to breathe with the pulse of the earth. The air is rich with the scent of damp soil and the musk of ancient wood, while soft, dappled light filters through the canopy of leaves above. A small, clear pool in the center of the chamber reflects the green hues, casting wavering patterns on the walls. Standing at the edge of the pool is a figure, seemingly born from the flora itself. Delicate features, framed by tendrils of leafy hair, regard you with curiosity and the wisdom of the ages. A thin layer of moss adorns her form, giving her the appearance of being one with the chamber's lush growth. Before she can regard you, a group of kobolds burst out of the tunnels and attack her.

Encounter. There's 1 Kobold Scale Sorcerer (CR 1: Volo's Guide to Monsters p. 167), 1 Kobold Inventor (CR 1/4: Volo's Guide to Monsters p. 166), 1 Gazer (CR 1/2: Volo's Guide to Monsters p. 126) [Easy, 350 XP rewarded] [Customize] here.

Astraea is an earth dryad that watched over this tomb long before Mordek or the kobolds showed up. She asks the PCs to clear out the kobolds, and warn them that a pair of necromancers have taken over the inner chamber. They're searching for an artifact that doesn't exist, having long ago been cast into the depths by Astraea due to its dark magic. If the PCs agree, then she'll cause a walkable path to slowly materialize across the pit at the green path.

Treasure across a 10 ft gap (Athletics DC 10, any other solution DC 15). On success, they get 2700 cp, 900 sp, 100 gp,

10 gp valuables (60 gp total): 2 Tiger eye (translucent brown with golden center), Eye agate (translucent circles of gray, white, brown, blue, or green), Rhodochrosite (opaque light pink), Banded agate (translucent striped brown, blue, white, or red), and Turquoise (opaque light blue-green) [Customize]. On fail, they fall and take 1d10 bludgeoning damage.

East: leads to #4

South: leads to #6

6

The chapel's vaulted ceiling soars high above, adorned with intricately carved beams that crisscross in complex patterns. Stone walls, worn smooth by the passage of time, are adorned with murals depicting the deities who safeguard the slumber of the departed. An ethereal glow, seemingly emanating from the very stones themselves, casts a soft, otherworldly light throughout the chamber, giving the impression of a liminal space suspended between realms. Rows of pews, hewn from ancient wood and bearing the marks of countless hands, face the altar at the heart of the chapel. Here, a mosaic of stained glass forms a kaleidoscope of color, depicting a pantheon of otherworldly beings, their gazes fixed on the world beyond.

Event. Buy a potion or take 3d10 (18) damage if you refuse. Offered by a mysterious NPC with unknown motivations. [Customize]

East: leads to #3

North: leads to #5

7

The wilderness stretches out before you, an untamed landscape of rolling hills and dense forests where nature holds dominion. The sky above is a vast canvas of shifting hues, painted by the ever-changing light of sun and clouds. Below, the earth is a patchwork of verdant greens and earthy browns, with the occasional burst of color from a wildflower or the flash of a bird's wing. The wind whispers through the trees, carrying with it the scent of pine and the distant murmur of a flowing stream. The path you follow, little more than a worn trail of trampled grass and scattered stones, meanders through the terrain.

Encounter. There's 1 Choker (CR 1: Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes p. 123), 1 Spectator (CR 3: Monster Manual p. 30) [Hard, 900 XP rewarded] [Customize] here.

Continue: leads to #3

8

The antechamber stretches out before you, a solemn space of quiet reflection, where the stone walls bear witness to countless whispered prayers and hushed conversations. A series of alcoves adorned with flickering candles create pockets of soft, warm light that cast a gentle glow across the room. Plush cushions and low wooden benches offer a place for the weary to rest and gather their thoughts, while the faint scent of incense hangs in the air, weaving a tapestry of calm and tranquility. Intricately carved wooden screens, their patterns echoing the shadows cast by the flickering flames, partition the room into intimate spaces.

Trap. A gallery is filled with paintings that are actually portals. If the wrong portals are entered that leads to the trap, which releases the spell stored within the trapped object.

Effect: +3 to hit against one target, Casts Poison Spray centered on the trigger with DC 10 (if relevant)

Trigger: paintings, a gallery filled with enticing paintings that are actually portals. Only one (or none) of the paintings leads forward, the rest lead to the trap.

Countermeasures: A successful DC 10 Intelligence (Arcana) check allows a character to figure out that the paintings are portals. A successful dispel magic (DC 10) cast on the eye disables the trap. An unsuccessful check triggers the trap.

Casting dispel magic (DC 10) on the trap will cancel the stored spell. [Customize]

West: is an unlocked door leads to #3

North: is a locked door (DC 15), with a key on a nearby creature or furniture, leads to #9

9

The chamber you now stand in appears to be a study of sorts, filled with an array of aged tomes, maps, and cryptic scrolls scattered across the room. Shelves carved from the very stone of the walls bow under the weight of countless volumes, while a large, weathered desk sits in the center, the surface cluttered with inkwells, quills, and parchment. A candelabrum, its candles burned down to mere stubs, casts a flickering light over the scene, lending the space an air of secrecy and knowledge hidden from the world above. On one of the walls, you notice a peculiar arrangement of mirrors and lenses, the glass reflecting the dim light in odd angles, creating a sense of unease as if unseen eyes were watching your every move.

Encounter. There's 1 Gibbering Mouther (CR 2: Monster Manual p. 157), 1 Dolgaunt (CR 3: Eberron: Rising from the Last War) [Hard, 1,150 XP rewarded] [Customize] here.

Note. There's a discarded note that can be found if the room is searched. If the note is read, you can read the following:

The time has come to set our plan into motion.The troublesome Mordek has taken control of the order and become too powerful for us to confront directly. However, Mordek will be launching an attack on the nearby village, and it's my hope that you can use the opportunity to recruit some adventurers to deal with him for us. Once Mordek is eliminated, we will be free to seize control and shape the world to our vision. Proceed with caution, and remember: the veil must remain intact.

North: leads to #10

South: (green) is a massive pit (60 ft deep and wide) that spans the entire path with no floor or ledges leads to #8

10

You find yourselves in a vast chamber, its towering walls etched with runes that flicker with an unsettling energy. The floor is a patchwork of cracked stone and metal grates, the spaces between revealing a yawning abyss below. A cacophony of whirring gears and grinding cogs fills the air, accompanied by the relentless march of skeletal feet and the hum of arcane machinery. Amidst the chaos, hulking constructs of metal and bone lurch forward, their hollow eyes filled with an unnatural, menacing glow. Above the din, the silhouettes of Mordek and the Veiled Seer loom, casting long shadows over the scene, their figures distorted by the flickering light and the unstable structure. The walls shudder and groan as the chamber begins to fracture and collapse, the once-sturdy pillars now splintered and crumbling.

Encounter. There's 1 Skeletal Rats (CR 1/4: Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus), 1 Shadow (CR 1/2: Monster Manual p. 269), 1 Oak Truestrike (Mordek) (CR 2: Acquisitions Incorporated pg 205), 1 Prophetess Dran (Veiled Seer) (CR 2: Acquisitions Incorporated) (Deadly, 210 XP each) [Customize] here.

During the combat, the terrain is collapsing and shifting under the undead construct. On Initiative count 0, all combatants are moved 15 ft in a random direction as the ground shifts beneath. Mordek and the Veiled Seer will take shots at each other when not being attacked by the PCs, or if they're closer to each other than any PC.

If the PCs didn't find the note and/or don't realize the Veiled Seer is using them, then he'll help them defeat Mordek and then make a surprise attack on the weakest PC at a good opportunity.

Treasure. 1800 cp, 1200 sp, 80 gp, Pearl of power [Customize]

Conclusion

With Mordek and the Veiled Seer vanquished, the undead army is left leaderless and gradually dissipates, bringing peace to the region. Word of the adventurers' exploits spreads far and wide, inspiring others to take up arms against the forces of darkness. The defeat of Mordek also disrupts the balance of power, creating a vacuum that other ambitious individuals and factions seek to fill, setting the stage for new alliances, rivalries, and adventures. Additionally, the players may decide to seek out the last artifact, potentially leading into an Underdark campaign.

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