Kassoon

No Prep Module: The Hive Lord 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 2 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 links to the tools in their relevant section to customize the adventure to your party.

Hive Entrance

Background

An insect hive lord and his swarm have been kidnapping people from the nearby village, turning them into mindless slaves through a horrifying mutation. The hive has been growing rapidly, and has completely taken over the wilderness nearby, making travel especially treacherous. Heroes are requested to put a stop to the attacks and prevent the hive from getting completely out of control.

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.

The PCs are arrving at a gnome village named Winterforte hidden in a valley, looking for info related to their backstory or doing downtime. They see An obelisk, comprised of rose quartz and decorated with sylvan runes, which appears to be of fey origin. It's surrounded in a 120-foot field of wild magic.

Adventure Hooks

  • One of the characters inherits a ship with an old captain's log that hints at places to explore, treasure to find, and perils to avoid.
  • Insects attack a local gnome village. The PCs must help the village fortify against future attacks, and track the insects down to administer retribution.
  • Society of Shattered Blades contacts the party and asks for their help.

When the PCs are ready, they can travel to the hive in the wilderness. Have the lead PC make a DC 10 Survival check, on a success the journey takes 3 days, on a fail the journey takes 5 days. If they run out of food, they can forage with a DC 15 Survival check. The climate is 0°C (32°F) at day, and -8°C (17°F) at night, requiring warm clothes. The weather is clear and sunny with light wind.

When the PCs arrive, they come to a valley that's an Infested location (Tasha's pg. 156). If they continue and explore, they find the hive.

A dam of ichor and refuse turns away the rolling frozen river. Although the dam appears to have been hastily constructed from makeshift materials, it has weathered the years remarkably well. Hundreds of varieties of fungi grow over every surface, and the air is heavy with the stench of death. A massive hive grows out of the landscape, made of all manner of organic matter, with hundreds of insects buzzing about the structure.

Dungeon

Type: Insect Hive
Noises: Buzzing
Air: Hazy and humid
Odors: Dank or moldy
Enemy Patrol: 1 Adult Kruthik (CR 2: Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes p. 212), 1 Flying Horror (CR 3: Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica) [Deadly, 1,150 XP rewarded] [Customize]
Chance of Encounter Per Hour: 40%

Room Contents

You can also generate different descriptions using the Description Generator

1

The ceiling soars 90 feet high in the front of this rough chamber, and the walls are carved with honeycombs and covered in webbing. Within this area lie chrysalis within hollow columns. The walls are adorned with frozen bones and skulls, arranged in a morbidly decorative fashion. Directly across from a tunnel stands a set of organic barricades in the south wall. The mouth of a side chamber leads into darkness beyond. The air is noxious and burns your lungs.

There's poisonous gas filling the area (1d6 poison damage per minute of exposure)

There are 1 Purple Wormling (CR 2: Storm King's Thunder p. 242), 1 Flying Staff (CR 1/4: Waterdeep: Dragon Heist) [Hard, 500 XP rewarded] [Customize] here.

There is a west path that leads to #10

There is a south path that leads to #2

2

This 25-foot-high chamber has a dark, flat ceiling wrapped with gossamer strands. Dark, stagnant liquid pools in the middle of the chamber. Green ichor hangs in archways at both ends of the south wall in this dark chamber. The tunnel continues past the chamber, winding gradually to the north and out of sight. Thick webbing is set into the west wall, and light seeps through its cracks.

In this chamber is a trap. Webbing is attached to a mechanism in the ceiling. The trap is triggered when the webbing is disturbed, which causes the wall along a narrow ledge to push out, forcing intruders off the ledge and into a pit below.

Effect: Targets all creatures within a 10 ft. square area, the wall pushes out along a narrow ledge, pushing targets into the pit below which deals 16 (2d10) damage.

Trigger: webbing, activates the trap when disturbed.

Countermeasures: A successful DC 20 Intelligence (Investigation) check at the top of the web will find the mechanism that activates when the web is touched. A successful DC 15 Dexterity check using thieves' tools disarms the trap, rendering the web harmless.

There is a west path that leads to #3

There is a north path that leads to #1

3

Barely contained within this chamber is a T-shaped tower, 10 feet on a side and 20 feet high, with egg sacs on all sides and a honeycomb roof. This chamber is heady with the strong scent of syrup. Organic matter covers the floor. To the north, little archways hang open, and a steady light escapes through the gap. Another tunnel is on the west wall, while a passage to the east leads toward a dark chamber.

In this chamber is a trap. This trap activates when a ruby or other valuable item is pried from a statue or other surface, that makes scalding hot steam fill the area via vents in the floor.

Effect: Targets all creatures within a 10 ft. square area, scalding hot steam fills the area. Any target that starts or moves through the area takes 2 (1d10) fire damage per turn.

Trigger: removal trigger, activates when a gem or other valuable item is removed.

Countermeasures: A successful DC 10 Intelligence (Investigation) check allows a character to find a wire attached to the item which triggers the trap when pulled. A successful DC 20 Dexterity check using thieves' tools disables the trip wire harmlessly. A character without thieves' tools can attempt this check with disadvantage using any edged weapon or edged tool. On a failed check, the trap triggers.

A strong gust of wind (at least 10mph) will disperse the steam. [Customize]

There is a west path that leads to #4

There is an east path that leads to #2

There is a north path that leads to #10

4

The floor is showered with small swatches of twisted, muddy fur and provisions. The northern portion of the area is separated from the rest by a steep bluff; the ceiling here is half the height of the rest of the chamber. Past the chamber, the corridor turns back to rough granite and turns to the north. A warm pulsating sac of liquid is growing out of the south wall. Tunnels exit to the east and south.

The sac in this chamber asks three questions about the PC's fears (if all three are answered honestly, a reward appears).

In this chamber is Small Brown Mold (Frigid temperature. DC 10 Con, 1d10 cold damage, half on save. Immune to fire, causes it to expand. Destroyed by cold).

There is an east path that leads to #3

There is a north path that leads to #5

There is a south path that leads to #13

5

Thousands of pieces of shell cover the floor. Thick webbing blocks the path to the west. In the corner of the chamber is a platform of mud and dung, polished to a shining finish. Strands of web hang on the stonework, with cocoons of partially eaten remains. A large tunnel exits in the north wall.

There are 1 Flying Horror (CR 3: Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica), 1 Assassin Bug (CR 3: Mordenkainens Fiendish Folio) [Deadly, 1,400 XP rewarded] [Customize] here.

There is a west path that leads to #6

There is a north path that leads to #8

There is a south path that leads to #4

6

Tiny slits in the walls, swathed with tiny eggs, allow little light to enter this upper chamber. Against the far wall are all manner of bloodstained remains, as well as webbing. Hallways lead off to the north and the east. An opening at the southern end of the chamber continues into a tunnel, from which a sound of buzzing echoes.

In this chamber is a trap. This trap is activated when a creature touches its surface, which delivers a dangerous surprise to anyone touching the lever.

Effect: Targets any creature that touches it, 1 (1d10) damage and DC 10 CON save or stunned for 1 round

Trigger: touch trigger, activates when surface is touched by a creature.

Countermeasures: A spell or other effect that can sense the presence of magic, such as detect magic, reveals an aura of divination magic around the surface. A successful dispel magic (DC 10) cast on the surface destroys the trap.

Attempting to destroy the lever will trigger the trap, activating the lever at range (such as with Mage Hand) can trigger the trap from a safe distance. [Customize]

A series of hollow pipes whistle a tune when the wind blows through them, waiting for someone to play the accompaniment and complete the sequence (Performance DC 10, any other solution DC 15). On success, they get 16 gp [Customize]. On fail, they take 1 thunder damage.

There is an east path that leads to #5

There is a north path that leads to #7

There is a south path that leads to #11

7

Black, low shapes thrust up out of the still, brackish liquid that fills this 15-foot-square chamber, the ceiling of which is festooned with long hanging black web strands. A pulsating sac of warm liquid stands along the north wall, with fluorescent fungus that fills the chamber with a bright orange glow. Above a tunnel in the eastern wall is a white jawless skull. A rough, winding passage leads toward the south.

The strands in the ceiling are large spiderwebs (DC 12 Dex or restrained. DC 12 escape. AC 10, 15 HP, fire vulnerability, immunity to bludgeoning / piercing / psychic).

In this chamber is a trap. A lever is rigged to activate when pulled that activates a rune of power, fearing the target.

Effect: Targets all creatures within 10 ft., DC 10 WIS save or become frightened for 4 (1d4) rounds

Trigger: lever, activates when the wrong lever is pulled.

Countermeasures: A successful DC 15 Intelligence (Investigation) check allows a character to deduce the trap's presence from connections in the lever's mechanism to it. A successful DC 15 Dexterity check using thieves' tools disarms the trap, rendering the lever useless, or connecting it to some other mechanism. Unsuccessfully attempting to pick the lever triggers the trap.

Casting dispel magic (DC 15) will dispel the runes in the symbol. [Customize]

There is an east path that leads to #8

There is a south path that leads to #6

8

The area stinks of a sweet musk. Stacked platforms of shed claws and pincers are set around the chamber, while a pile of metallic ore stands beside the entrance. A passage to the west bends out of view, while a partially collapsed tunnel obscures a hall to the east. Thick webbing blocks a lengthy passage to the south.

There are 1 Suturefly (CR: 1/4: Tome of Beasts p. 372), 3 Pyrefly (CR: 1/4: Nerzugal's Extended Bestiary p. 84) (Easy, 40 XP each) [Customize] here.

There is a west path that leads to #7

There is an east path that leads to #9

There is a south path that leads to #5

9

This long, tight chamber is half-filled with an underground brook, pouring down at a rapid pace. Hanging from a chitinous spike bolted to the western wall are bloodstained animal hides. A barricade of dung and bone stands closed to the west. A lit hallway to the south contains thick webbing, through which you hear a musical buzzing.

In this chamber is a trap. A pillar of light stretches the location. The trap is activated if the beam is broken by a creature or object and causes the wall along a narrow ledge to push out, forcing intruders off the ledge and into the pit below.

Effect: DC 15 to find, DC 15 to disable
Targets all creatures within a 10 ft. square area, the wall pushes out along a narrow ledge, pushing targets into the pit below which deals 12 (2d10) damage.

Trigger: light beam, a beam of light activates the trap when broken. [Customize]

There is a west path that leads to #8

There is a south path that leads to #10

10

The gradual dripping of liquid sounds out where it falls from organic spikes down into a dark pool that fills the damp tunnel ahead. Dark, stagnant slime pools in the center of the chamber. A tunnel leads to the north. Past the chamber, the passageway turns back to rough granite and turns to the south. Egg-filled recesses sit away from the tunnels that give access to the chamber.

In this chamber is an event. Option to take 3d10 (9) damage to upgrade a magic item. Offered by the egg sacs. [Customize]

There is an east path that leads to #1

There is a north path that leads to #9

There is a south path that leads to #3

11

This chamber is made of squishy organic matter that squelches underfoot. Ichor ebbs and flows along a squat opening along the west wall of this chamber. The north end of the chamber into a tunnel. Webbing blocks the path to the south.

In this chamber is an event. Option to take 4d10 (10) damage to upgrade a magic item. Offered by the ichor. [Customize]

There is a north path that leads to #6

There is a south path that leads to #12

12

The stream running through the hive meanders along a chamber before tumbling into a great chasm. Fluttering glowbugs illuminate this chamber. In the corner of the chamber is a soft pile of mud and ichor, fitted with sticky slime restraints. To the north, thick strands hang slightly closed, and a steady soft light escapes through the opening. A tunnel leads to the east.

There are 1 Assassin Bug (CR 3: Mordenkainens Fiendish Folio), 1 Adult Kruthik (CR 2: Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes p. 212) [Deadly, 1,150 XP rewarded] [Customize] here.

There is an east path that leads to #13

There is a north path that leads to #11

13

The area reeks of rotten eggs. A small garden sits by the wall, filled with odd looking plants. A thin tunnel leads to another brief chamber behind this one. Wider halls lead off to the north and the west.

A collection of exotic plants hide a secret treasure (Nature DC 10, any other solution DC 15). On success, they get 50 gp [Customize]. On fail, they take 1 poison damage.

There is a west path that leads to #12

There is an east path that leads to #14

There is a north path that leads to #4

14

Hive Lord

A heavy fog clings to the floor, which is wrapped in putrid waste. Cocoons filled with struggling people border the walls of this large chamber.

There are 1 Neogi Master (CR: 4: Volo's Guide to Monsters p. 180) (Deadly, 220 XP each) [Customize] here.

There are Commoner Peons (+0, 10 AC, 4 HP) of a slave army that don’t really want to fight the party, but are under control of the Neogi Master. They will swarm the party, using Help, Grapple, and Trip to assist their master. If the fight is too easy, you can add more commoners or have them start making attack rolls.

Aftermath

With the hive lord defeated, the remaining insects scatter and become feral. They may attack random settlements and travelers that needs to be dealt with, but never as a unified force. For rescuing their town, the gnomes hold a celebration for the PCs and reward them with 100 gp, 2 Potions of healing, and a Wand of web

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