Free Module: The Trial of Chiefs

This module can work with any size party of any level, and fit into any existing campaign. The party comes across a tribe in the wilderness that will not allow them entry into their sacred woods without completing the trial of the chief. You can insert this module during any travel sequence in which the party needs to get somewhere. That somewhere is on the other side of the sacred woods, so they must deal with the tribe to pass.


A group of elven men emerge from the trees, spears and wooden shields held at the ready. They are covered in brightly colored tribal tattoos all over their bodies and wear simple leather clothes with various bands and charms hanging from their limbs. Their ears are exceptionally long, with earrings all along the length.

They only speak elvish, but if the party is completely unable to communicate with them then the leader will call over one of the warriors who can say very simple things in common like "you" and "come."

One of the elves steps forward, a young muscular man. "Stop outsiders. I am Azaki and you are trespassing on our land. The elder must decide your fate."

He will not let the party continue deeper into the woods, and the elves will attack if the party tries to leave. If it comes to that, use the Encounter Generator to make an appropriate "Deadly" fight. Set Type to Humanoid and the Max CR to at least 1 below your party's level before selecting "Random Deadly" from the dropdown. If they defeat the warriors and continue on into the forest they will be attacked many more times by the tribe as they enter the sacred woods.

As you walk with the elves, you notice how graceful and effortless their movement is. They sway their feet with each step in such a way that the underbrush goes undisturbed, and no footprints are left in the soft soil. You're brought to a tribal village deep in the woods, and despite the tense introduction you're treated like guests of honor once within the village. The elder, Mialee, is a pot bellied older woman that still has a hulking figure and broad shoulders. She has a feast prepared in your honor, where you're served freshly grilled fish and pig, with a sweet-tasting alcohol to wash it down.

Mialee is friendly to the party and welcomes them to the village. They will be given free accomodation if they desire it, and will be treated with respect and courtesy by everyone while in the village. If they ask about passing through the village and past into the woods, she will look concerned.

"None may tread in the sacred forest, that's not a request I can honor."

"There is a way. Go into the petal jungle, and find the tomb of growth. There, complete the trial of the chiefs. Only then will you be allowed to pass."

If the party refuses the trial and tries to enter the sacred woods anyway, the village will try to stop them by force. There are about 30 elves that live here, all capable warriors. It's likely suicide for the party to fight the entire village all at once, so they'll either die or figure something out. If they decide to go to the tomb you can continue.

As you enter into the jungle you see a peculiar sight. The plant life is all colorful flowers of varying shapes and sizes. A colorful collage of silky petals spreads out across the landscape. A fragrant mist of pollen hangs in the air with a wonderful smell, and as you breathe it in you feel a sense of happiness and calm. Further within, you find an overgrown entrance to a tomb. The dark and musty interior is framed with colorful flowers on the exterior.

Trial of Chiefs

Use this dungeon https://www.kassoon.com/dnd/dungeon-map/9114041/Forest-Temple-3-75-0/

For encounters, set your party size and level, choose "Plant" for "Type" and "Forest" for "Environment" then click the random button in the "Your Encounter" section to get an appropriate encounter for your group size and level.

Here's an encounter template that's ready to use, just change the party size and level to match your own (and set the encounter difficulty): Generate Plant Encounter.
There's two more rooms after the boss.

You see a small room with a desk that has a stack of old parchment on it, as well as an ink and quill. A chair with flower petals for cushioning is seated at the desk. The walls are covered in a panoramic scene of nature, made with flower pigment. There's also a small side table near the painting with a teapot and two cups. The floor is covered in flower petals, and a small opening in the ceiling lets in light. On the far wall is a closed door.

The door, when opened, will reveal a silver gauntlet. It slaps whoever opened the door and pulls the door shut. It's a DC 25 Strength check to overpower the gauntlet and force the door open, but the gauntlet will attack (use the Animated Armor statblock). A DC15 History check will reveal that the tribe places a great deal of importance on etiquette for visiting guests. Asking politely to enter the room will cause the gauntlet to open the door for them, closing it behind once they've crossed through.

Beyond the door is a small garden, lit with more small holes in the ceiling. Beneath each beam of light in a plot of dirt is a pink rose with small streaks of gold that seem to shimmer in the light.

There are about 20 roses growing in this small garden, but the party only needs 1. If they take more than one the tribe will be extremely upset, which will result in an automatic failure for the social skill challenge at the end. If they take more than 1 rose each (so 5 roses for a party of 5), the tribe will be hostile.

Depending on how rests and encounters go, you should do a random encounter or two on the way out to ensure the party is low on resources by the time they make it back to the tribe.

You return to a tribe divided, in the middle of a heated argument. On one side is the elder Mialee and a few of the villagers you met when you were sent on the trial. On the other side is the young man Azaki and a few of the warriors you first met.

They're arguing about letting the party pass into the sacred forest, with Azaki wanting the PCs gone and out of the woods. If the party tries to diffuse the situation, you can run this as a social skill challenge.

The social encounter is DC 16 skill challenge requiring 5 skill checks, 3 successes or 3 failures determines the outcome. Have the players say what they want to do, then have them roll the most appropriate skill. Don't allow a player to roll the same skill twice. On success, they convince some of the tribe that they're trustworthy. On fail, some of the tribe is convinced they're untrustworthy. After each success or failure, have the splinter faction present another argument:

  • "These outsiders know nothing of our ways, they only want to use us."
  • "They show no respect to the forest and trampled all over it."
  • "If we allow these outsiders through, then more will come to threaten our way of life."
  • "They must have cheated to pass the trials."

If they succeed, Azaki will back down and honor the deal. If they fail, he and a group of warriors will attack the party after they leave the village. After returning with hopefully 1 flower, Mialee will name them as honorary chiefs and let them use the "skyway" to cross over the sacred forest.

They will finally need to go and meet Mialee and the other elves at a cliff where huge flowers, at least 3 times their size, sit waiting. They've been cut and secured with rope to the ground, with one for each player. If they grab ahold the rope will be cut, and the flower will take off into the air and fly through the sky. The giant flowers will each fly high over the sacred forest, landing gently in the valley beyond for them to continue their journey.

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