Kassoon

No Prep Module: The Haunting of Seaside (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 4 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.

Start with 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.

Adventure Background

Valindra was once a renowned elven wizard who served as court arcanist for many monarchs. A long and successful life nevertheless left her obsessed with extending her lifespan beyond its natural limits. Valindra spent decades researching methods of immortality, delving into dark rituals shunned by her kin. On a moonless night, she enacted a profane ceremony meant to bind her soul to a phylactery vessel, preserving herself indefinitely. A fatal mistake caused the ritual to warp Valindra's body and spirit, transforming her into a vengeful wraith.

Enraged at her own failure, Valindra turned her wrath upon the thriving coastal town of Seaside. The wraith brought blight and fell energies, decimating the verdant paradise. Lush forests rotted, vibrant coral reefs turned gray and lifeless. Fields and livestock withered under the wraith's malevolent power. Seaside's inhabitants, weakened by hunger and disease, could do little to repel the onslaught. The town has been reduced to a shell of its former glory. Valindra continues to haunt the island, her anger and bitterness growing ever stronger as she turns more of the land into a barren wasteland.

Adventure Hooks

  • Strange events plague Seaside - crops withering overnight, fishermen's nets coming up empty, livestock falling ill. The people seek adventurers for help.
  • An old woman approaches the party, claiming prophetic dreams of a "hungry ghost" bringing blight to Seaside. She begs them to investigate.
  • A merchant approaches the party seeking help. His ships keep getting attacked by undead near an island. He offers a reward if the party can stop the attacks.

Seaside

You gaze upon the once-lush island, now withered and brown. The salty air stings your eyes as you survey the barren land while sparse grass crackles underfoot. In the distance, a broken jetty juts into the gray waves. The creak of weathered wood fills your ears as fishing skiffs rock gently at the docks. The cries of gulls echo mournfully across a land bereft of life. Towards the center of the isle looms a twisted oak, tendrils of pale sand coiling around its trunk, steadily choking the ancient tree.

Encounter. There's 1 Zombie Warrior (CR 2: Nerzugal's Extended Bestiary p97), 1 Ghast (CR 2: MM p148), 1 Returned Sentry (CR 1: MOT), 1 Indentured Spirit (CR 1: GGR) (Deadly, 260 XP each) [Customize] here.

West: leads to #10

East: leads to #4

4

You stand before a decrepit hut of driftwood planks. Brittle bushes encircle the home, branches clawing at the eroded walls. In the dusty street, crab prints scrape faint paths. Nearby, a message carved into barnacle-encrusted wood offers coin for flesh. Foul vapors rise from dark gaps between buildings. In the distance, the sea crashes against the shore, while this rotting town is slowly swallowed by the salted waste.

Treasure hidden by a non-hostile monster in the room, but will lie and tell the PCs there's nothing here and not allow them to search (Insight DC 10, any other solution DC 15). On success, they find 20 cp in loot [Customize] and the monster flees. On fail, a CR 4 monster attacks with surprise.

West: leads to #3

South: leads to #5

5

You tread upon a street of cracked stone, slick with seawater. Dead kelp blankets the path. In a deserted market square looms a sagging three-storey structure. Gaps mar the rotting roof, with light flickering from somewhere within. Nearby is an abandoned cart, half-swallowed by the pale sand and missing a wheel. No sound stirs but the ceaseless moan of wind and tide.

Trap. A door is rigged to activate when opened that causes a camouflaged net to fall on any creature caught below.

Effect: Targets all creatures within a 10 ft. square area, DC 14 STR save or become restrained and take 3 (2d10) poison damage, half on save

Trigger: door, activates when the door is opened.

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

North: leads to #4

West: leads to #9

South: leads to #6

6

The salty air stings your eyes as you gaze upon the crumbling stone cottages, their thatched roofs collapsed under the weight of time. Where fertile gardens once bloomed, only dry, cracked earth remains. You glance down at the sandy path beneath your feet, strewn with the bones of fish and other sea creatures. The only signs of life are a few scrawny seabirds pecking hopefully at the barren ground, and the stooped figure of an old man hobbling between the empty cottages, muttering under his breath. An eerie stillness hangs over the faded remains of the village.

Encounter. There's 1 Zombie Warrior (CR 2: Nerzugal's Extended Bestiary p97), 1 Ghoul (CR 1: MM p148), 1 Dread Warrior (CR 1: TYP p233), 1 Will-o'-Wisp (CR 2: MM p301) (Deadly, 260 XP each) [Customize] here.

Treasure in crypt coffins marked with the names of previous rulers, but only one is correct and the rest are trapped decoys (History DC 10, any other solution DC 15). On success, they get 14 cp in loot [Customize]. On fail, they take 2d10 (19) necrotic damage.

West: leads to #7

North: leads to #5

7

Just beyond the town near a steep cliff, looms the maw of a seaside cavern, gaping like an open wound. Pale tendrils of seaweed drape the crumbling entrance. Splintered wood leans against an eroding wall, now partially collapsed. In a leafless tree is a rusted harpoon, impaled above white bones protruding from the lifeless earth. A small hut sits nearby the cavern, and an old woman is seated in front of it.

Hermit. A reclusive, eccentric old hermit named Ora lives in the hut. She stops the PCs to chat, and reveals Valindra has returned as a vengeful wraith and opened a portal to the Shadowfell nearby, corrupting the land with necrotic energy. Ora translated part of the ritual Valindra used. The PCs must gather three magical relics attuned to life, nature, and light and perform a cleansing ritual. This will close the portal and restore Seaside. She cautions against going inside the cave without the relics. If the PCs search the town and return with what they believe to be the relics, she will accompany them into the cave.

Trap. This trap is activated when a creature approaches the cavern entrance, which causes a shrine to glow

Effect: Targets all lawful creatures nearby, DC 14 WIS save or take 8 (2d10) damage and become confused stunned for 1 (1d4) rounds

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 14) cast on the surface destroys the trap.

[Customize]

West: leads to #8

East: leads to #6

South: leads to #11

8

The path beneath your feet winds between tilted stone cottages, their walls blackened by salt and algae. The fetid odor of decay hangs heavy in the air. In the village square, a mob of threadbare villagers rails against their misfortune, voices raised in anguish. A lone beggar attempts to restore order, his entreaties ignored.

Event. Heal 2d10 (19) HP but become cursed with 24h Blind, or trigger a wild magic surge at the start of each combat for the next 24h, or take damage equal to your level. Offered by a strange arcane device that's difficult to operate. [Customize]

East: leads to #7

North: leads to #9

9

To your left, half-sunk in the dirt lies the massive ribcage of some long-dead creature, bones slowly dissolving to dust. The alley to your right leads past precariously leaning cottages to a crumbling manor, its once-grand iron fence now rusted and sagging. Skeletal bushes claw at the walls, their branches twisted and gnarled. Within the manor's darkened windows, shadows dance and figures seem to skulk, though no sound carries to your ears. The salty wind whips through empty doorways and whistles over collapsed rooftops.

An object contains an imprisoned creature.

Puzzle. A door asks a riddle: Glittering points that downward thrust, Sparkling spears that never rust. A: Icicle.

If the puzzle is solved, they find 2500 cp, 400 sp, 70 gp, 25 gp valuables (150 gp total): 4 Gold locket with a painted portrait inside, Embroidered silk handkerchief, and Silver ewer in loot [Customize]

North: leads to #10

East: leads to #5

South: leads to #8

10

You shuffle along a narrow path, hemmed in on both sides by the creeping vines and gnarled branches of long-neglected fruit trees. Their twisted boughs tower above you, filtering the harsh sunlight into dappled shards of light and shadow. The path opens up into a modest square, at its center a weathered statue standing stoically. Around this rise simple stone cottages, their thatched roofs patched and sagging, their dull tile floors blanketed in dust. The once-lush orchards are now barren, their bounty reduced to a few scattered brine-shriveled fruits.

Event. Roll a d6: on 1-2 receive a random item, on 3-4 receive 2 random items and lose your level in HP, on 5-6 receive 3 random items and lose twice your level in HP. Offered by an unhinged knight seeking revenge. [Customize]

East: leads to #3

South: leads to #9

11

Shadows dance across damp stone walls as you see a narrow cavern passage. Ancient torch sconces crumble, their fires long extinguished. To the south, a macabre pile of bones and rotted cloth lies heaped where some ill-fated souls met their end. Salt crystals glimmer faintly on the skeletal remains. Descending the worn amber steps, you spy a weathered oak door hanging askew from rusted iron hinges. Beyond, only inky blackness awaits. A chill draught blows up from the abyss, carrying with it an odor of decay and the endless rumbling of underground oceans.

Encounter. There's 1 Swarm of Zombie Limbs (CR 1: GtR p254), 1 Zombie Warrior (CR 2: Nerzugal's Extended Bestiary p97), 1 Dread Warrior (CR 1: TYP p233) (Medium, 170 XP each) [Customize] here.

West: leads to #13

East: leads to #12

North: leads to #7

12

Along the western wall, a humble workshop sits abandoned, its mundane tools belied by the sinister altar at its center. Dark stains mark the stone slab, the origins best left unknown. From above, skulls peer down with empty gazes, suspended by fraying ropes. Salt crystals glisten on the barren floor, creeping inward from the hungry sea.

Treasure. 2200 cp, 1000 sp, 50 gp, Potion of greater healing, Potion of healing, Spell scroll (1st level), Spell scroll (1st level), Potion of healing, 10 gp valuables (70 gp total): Eye agate (translucent circles of gray, white, brown, blue, or green), Banded agate (translucent striped brown, blue, white, or red), 2 Turquoise (opaque light blue-green), Rhodochrosite (opaque light pink), Blue quartz (transparent pale blue), and Hematite (opaque gray-black) in loot [Customize]

West: leads to #11

13

There's a sickly glow over the cavern walls, slick with oozing mosses in unnatural hues. Scattered bones and twisted corpses tell an agonizing tale amid the abandoned trappings of chaotic rituals, now lying as discarded playthings. The insatiable sea has wound its icy tendrils throughout this charnel house, leaving its mark in crusts of salt on the bones of forgotten sacrifices. No trace of life stirs in the still, fetid air.

Event. Roll a d6 for random: 1: 11 gold, 2: magic item, 3: 4d10 (17) healing, 4: 24h Prone, 5: lose a magic item, 6: take 4d10 (17) damage. Offered by a cursed tome of arcane writing storing ancient rituals. [Customize]

West: leads to #14

East: leads to #11

14

The walls and ceiling are bedecked with macabre finery - bones peer from empty sockets, arranged in disturbing tableaus. Veils of cobwebs shroud the chamber's farthest reaches, while underfoot, tattered flesh litters the uneven floor. At the center looms a massive ritual seal, its sigils marred with dark stains, yet still exuding dark energies.

Ritual. If Ora is with the PCs, she will instruct them to take the relics into the ritual circle so they can channel the positive energy. As soon as the ritual begins, or if the PCs refuse to participate, Ora will transform into the wraith Valindra. She plans to use the PC's souls to open a portal to the Shadowfell, using items cursed with Seaside's fell energies to bind them here.

Control the Ritual. Place 5 objectives around the map, one in the middle and the rest 30ft from each corner. Any creature can spend an action while within 10ft of an objective to control it. At the end of each round, you earn 1 VP if you control 2+ objectives, 1 VP if you control more objectives, and 1 VP for each objective you control in your opponent's half. The winner is whoever has the most VPs at the end of the 4th round.

Encounter. There's 1 Returned Drifter (CR 1/4: MOT), 1 Wraith (CR 5: MM p302) (Deadly, 370 XP each) [Customize] here.

Treasure. 2600 cp, 700 sp, 90 gp, Potion of Climbing, Potion of healing, Spell scroll (1st level), Potion of greater healing, Potion of healing, 10 gp valuables (70 gp total): 2 Turquoise (opaque light blue-green), Moss agate (translucent pink or yellow-white with mossy gray or green markings), 2 Rhodochrosite (opaque light pink), Hematite (opaque gray-black), and Azurite (opaque mottled deep blue) in loot [Customize]

Conclusion

With Valindra defeated, Seaside's natural balance is restored and life slowly returns. As a gift, the PCs are given a barrel each of pickled fish as well as the relics they found for the ritual (if they did). Word spreads of their heroic deeds in Seaside, and they soon find themselves with many more requests for aid. The PCs are always treated like celebrities while within the local region.

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