Kassoon

No Prep Module: The Necromancer's Lament (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.

Start with character introductions 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 this time 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.

Adventure Background

Gorbuk was once a respected member of the Redtooth hobgoblin tribe, living in their mountain stronghold north of the Misty Forest. He served for many years as a shaman, providing food and protection for his people. Gorbuk fell deeply in love with his wife Vorna, and they were known throughout the tribe as an affectionate couple. Their peaceful life came to a tragic end when Vorna was killed in a landslide while foraging for mushrooms near their cave home.

Overwhelmed by grief, Gorbuk became obsessed with finding a way to resurrect his beloved Vorna. He began studying necromantic magic, convinced he could find a spell to restore her to life. Gorbuk's dark arts drew attention from the tribal chieftain, who accused him of consorting with evil powers. Forced to flee the mountain stronghold, Gorbuk retreated deep into the Misty Forest to continue his dangerous magical experiments out of sight. As the months passed with no success, Gorbuk descended further into madness and bitterness, cursing the tribe that exiled him and growing ever more determined to revive Vorna no matter the cost. Now a grim, vengeful hermit, Gorbuk possesses necromantic powers that could wreak havoc if unleashed.

Adventure Hooks

  • The PCs stumble upon a ransacked temple with evidence of dark rituals. A wounded priest tells them a crazed hobgoblin fled into the nearby swamp after stealing a holy relic.
  • A town near the swamp has had several graves disturbed and bodies gone missing. The locals suspect the work of a necromancer hiding in the marsh.
  • The PCs notice increasing reports of unnatural occurrences and darkness spreading across the land. Investigating these eerie events, they uncover clues that point to Gorbuk's sinister intentions.
Enemy Patrol: 1 Grenl (CR 1/4: Tales from the Yawning Portal pg 25), 1 Skeleton (CR 1/4: Monster Manual p. 272), 1 Undead Cockatrice (CR 1/2: The Orrery of the Wanderer) [Hard, 200 XP rewarded] [Customize]
Chance of Encounter Per Hour: 40%

3

You step cautiously through the arched entrance carved into the ancient tree, sunlight filtering through the leafy canopy above to dance across the mossy floor. The babbling of a nearby brook echoes gently amidst birdsong. Next to the brook is a strange cage made of vines with a pixie inside. Strange lights flit at the edge of vision, voices whispering just beyond hearing. The winding path leads ever deeper into the emerald shadows, and with each step the mundane world falls further away.

Encounter. There's 1 Skeletal Alchemist (CR 1/2: GoS), 1 Returned Drifter (CR 1/4: MOT) (Easy, 30 XP each) [Customize] here.

Cage. Within the cage is a captured pixie named Lula. She tells the PCs that Gorbuk kidnapped her to use her life essence in his ritual. If freed, she promises to help the PCs. She possesses knowledge about the Feywild, and can act as a guide. The cage is magically sealed and the vines have AC 20, HP 25, and Damage Threshold of 10. The pixie believes there may be a key deeper inside that can open the cage.

East: leads to #6

4

Glints of faerie light dance about the clearing, swirling round the ancient dolmens carved with runes. Before you lies an ancient stone temple, vines creeping up its weathered walls and a faint mist seeping from its threshold. Through the mist you glimpse flickering lights, like will-o-wisps dancing in the shadows. The air feels heavy with magic here, as though the veil between worlds has grown thin.

Encounter. There's 1 Jingle Jangle (CR 1/4: The Wild Beyond the Witchlight pg 70), 1 Gnoll Witherling (CR 1/4: Volo's Guide to Monsters p. 155) [Easy, 100 XP rewarded] [Customize] here.

Treasure. 2100 cp, 1200 sp, 100 gp, Ammunition, +2, 50 gp valuables (200 gp total): Star rose quartz (translucent rosy stone with white star-shaped center), Moonstone (translucent white with pale blue glow), and 2 Bloodstone (opaque dark gray with red flecks) in loot [Customize]

East: (pink) is a runed symbols and recess hidden here (DC 15). When the symbols is pushed into the correct recess, it opens a secret path that leads to #5

North: is a locked door (DC 15), with a key on a nearby creature or furniture, leads to #8

South: is a zone of negative necromantic energy which deals 1d10 necrotic damage per round (Lula can dispel it) leads to #6

5

Mist clings to ancient trees wreathed in vines, filtering the emerald light that falls in shifting patterns. Strange voices murmur just at the edge of hearing, half-glimpsed shapes flitting through the undergrowth. Ahead is a sunken grotto, with a strange glimmer on the water.

Trap. A barricade is holding back the trap and breaking it open causes the trap to trigger, which activates a rune of power, paralyzing the target.

Effect: Targets all creatures within 10 ft., DC 10 CON save or become paralyzed for 3 (1d4) rounds

Trigger: barricade, a barricade is holding back the trap.

Countermeasures: Leaving the barricade alone avoids the trap.

Casting dispel magic (DC 10) will dispel the runes. [Customize]

Treasure. 1500 cp, 800 sp, 50 gp, 25 gp valuables (175 gp total): 2 Gold locket with a painted portrait inside, 2 Silver ewer, Embroidered silk handkerchief, Cloth-of-gold vestments, and Small mirror set in a painted wooden frame in loot [Customize]

West: (pink) is a key that goes into a lock or mechanism sits on a false floor pit trap (Perception DC 10, any other solution DC 15) (DC 15). On fail, they take 1d10 bludgeoning damage. Success opens a secret path that leads to #4

6

Strange lights flicker between the leaves, and the humid air is filled with the croaks of frogs and chirps of insects. Lush ferns and flowers in colors you've never seen carpet the ground. The very air seems to thrum with ancient magic as the way winds deeper into the emerald gloom, where ruins loom amid the undergrowth, vine-choked and crumbling.

Event. Take 1d10 (5) damage but gain random treasure, otherwise gain 5 gp. Offered by an old hag offering a dark bargain. [Customize]

West: leads to #3

North: is a zone of negative necromantic energy which deals 1d10 necrotic damage per round (Lula can dispel it) leads to #4

South: is a locked door (DC 15), with a key on a nearby creature or furniture, leads to #7

7

The path winds between ancient trees festooned with vines, their crowns lost in emerald gloom. Strange lights flicker at the edge of sight, half-glimpsed forms dancing in the shadows. The sweet scent of exotic flowers fills the air with an undercurrent of decay. Bones litter the path, picked clean. A haunting melody floats on the still air, wordless voices calling from beyond.

Encounter. There's 1 Undead Cockatrice (CR 1/2: The Orrery of the Wanderer), 1 Gnoll Witherling (CR 1/4: Volo's Guide to Monsters p. 155) [Easy, 150 XP rewarded] [Customize] here.

Treasure hidden by a series of hollow pipes, which 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 2000 cp, 1000 sp, 50 gp, 25 gp valuables (125 gp total): Small mirror set in a painted wooden frame, 2 Gold locket with a painted portrait inside, and 2 Pair of engraved bone dice in loot [Customize]. On fail, they take 1d10 (5) thunder damage.

Key. There's runed symbols and recesses here across a 15 ft gap. The symbols are each school of magic. When the necromancy symbol is pressed into the recess, it opens Lula's cage.

North: is a locked door (DC 15), with a key on a nearby creature or furniture, leads to #6

8

You feel the cool, damp air cling to your skin as you step through the crumbling stone archway, hints of mist swirling about your feet. You brush aside thick cobwebs as your eyes adjust to the dim light, taking in the moss-covered walls and lichen-encrusted columns of this ancient temple. Strange shapes loom out of the shadows, and you hear the faint skittering of unseen creatures just at the edge of your vision. The smell of rich, dark earth fills your nose, tinged with decay.

Gorbuk will try to explain himself and his love for his lost wife. The PCs can choose whether or not to help him. If they choose to help, run a skill challenge for the ritual. If the skill challenge is failed, Gorbuk will become enraged with grief and attack. The area is saturated with healing magic, causing all but the absolute worst HP loss to be fixed in a matter of rounds. Conditions (incapacitated, grappled, petrified, etc) are not fixed by the magic, nor is attribute loss, allowing combatants to non-lethally take each other down.

Encounter. There's 1 Goblin (CR 1/4: MM p166), 1 Hobgoblin (CR 1/2: MM p186), 1 Zoblin (CR 1/4: Nerzugal's Extended Bestiary p96) (Hard, 40 XP each) [Customize] here.

Treasure. 2100 cp, 1200 sp, 90 gp, 50 gp valuables (450 gp total): 2 Zircon (transparent pale blue-green), 2 Chalcedony (opaque white), 2 Bloodstone (opaque dark gray with red flecks), Citrine (transparent pale yellow-brown), Onyx (opaque bands of black and white, or pure black or white), Jasper (opaque blue, black, and or brown) in loot [Customize]

Conclusion

If the PCs help Gorbuk, his wife returns as a mindless zombie. Gorbuk swears he can save her, and will try to take her away to fix the resurrection gone wrong, which the PCs can either allow, try to convince him that it's hopeless, or simply attack.

If the PCs defeat Gorbuk, they can return the relic to the temple and the corpses to their graves, much to the relief of the locals.

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