Free Module: The Underwater Cultists

The Underwater Cultists

The adventure begins in a town in the swamp. The town is Gladvost Rapids, and both the terrain and town itself is covered in vines from the swamp. It was founded on the spot where an ancient evil was slain, and dark magic permeates the entire area. The ruler is a feared tyrant, a warlord that claimed the swamp and keeps it under control with raiders-turned-soldiers. The populace knows him as their only lord, and pay their taxes to him in exchange for peace.

There's rumor that a cult has some dragon eggs and is performing weird magical experiments on them in a secluded part of the swamp.

The Barking Inn is owned by Hubert Blumenthal, a male gnome. The tavern is a wooden two-storey building, with an orange shingled roof and a small enclosed deck. It contains taxidermied birds hanging from the ceiling and a craps table. There are patrons at all hours of the day, and most citizens are wary of adventurers. They enjoy the peace they've finally earned with the warlord, and tend to see adventurers as agents of disruption and change.

After some time spent in the tavern or in the town, an envoy of a secretive group of good-aligned dragons will try to speak to the party about a nearby cult. The cult of Tiamat have stolen a clutch of dragon eggs, and are performing magical experiments on them to raise powerful and loyal allies. He says they don't get many adventurers out here, and the local populace isn't interested in yet more fighting. He asks that they retrieve the eggs and put an end to the cultists.

Envoy: Harriet Swiftwhistle, Female Halfling

Description: Standing 3'0", this woman is wearing colorful clothing, dressed as a Crown-heir. She has moderate length golden hair, and her eyes are green. Her teeth are white and perfect.

Personality: She is inclined to make off color jokes and interpret anything that could be construed as such as innuendo. She is a ruthless business woman, a trait she acquired from her father.

The envoy won't expect them to do this task without reward, and can offer a level-suitable hoard as reward. He gives them potions as advanced payment that will allow them to breathe and move freely underwater, saying that the eggs were likely taken to the bottom of the lake.

Travel: Navigation DC 15, Forage DC 15. 26°C (78°F) at day. 15°C (59.5°F) at night. Heavy Rainfall (obscured), no wind.

If the party accepts and makes their way to the lake, they'll pass through the thick underbrush and wet terrain of the swamp. At some point during the day they can pass by giant statues carved out of a mountainside or cliff. If you need a random encounter, try some bullywugs.

The cult's temple and lair is at the bottom of a lake. A vast, rotting corpse of some primeval beast of the Shadowfell has been here for generations, its body now serving as the base of the cult. If the players drink the potions they'll be able to breathe and move normally underwater without disadvantage, gaining a swim speed equal to their normal speed. The corpse is found at the bottom of the lake, and the entrance to the temple can be found within the dead creature's mouth.

Cultist Underwater TempleUnderwater Cultist Dungeon

Instead of set encounters, have cultists moving around the dungeon performing various duties. The players can rush in and fight everyone, sneak through, try to blend in, or some other type of solution. They can roll for whatever they decide on, and if things go south there's combat as a fallback. Chosen Cultists, Cult Fanatics, and regular Cultists make good choices, and you can quickly put an encounter for your party size / level together with the Encounter Generator.

At the end of the dungeon they find the dragon eggs and devices used for the experiments. If they're investigated with a DC 10 Arcana check they'll realize that these are not magical experiments at all, just simple incubators to keep the eggs warm and help them hatch. Either way the devices need to be disabled (or smashed) to remove the eggs.

The cultist leader (A Culr Priest and 3 Chosen Cultists, or a suitable encounter for your group size / level) will approach and confront the party. If allowed to talk (or questioned now or later) he'll say that those eggs were found amongst their mother's corpse. The cult intends to raise the orphans as their own, and raise them under the tenants of Tiamat. They won't allow the eggs to be taken, and won't allow the PCs to leave unless they swear to secrecy about their base and the eggs (possibly under a Geas spell). Any other alternative and they'll try to kill the PCs and defend the eggs with their lives.

Tiamat is an evil deity, and the PCs likely won't be ok with the dragons being raised for evil. Also the nearby town will almost assuredly be destroyed with the villagers becoming dragon food. If the PCs decide to side with the cultists, then they'll have to fight the envoy (which can also use the same stats as the Cult Priest, with Chosen Cultists for guards) and become enemies of the other dragon group.

If the party defeats the cultists and rescues the eggs, they can be brought back to town with similar travel DCs and conditions as before. You can also add in another wilderness encounter if you think they need it.

If the eggs are returned to the envoy then the PCs are given their reward and the eggs are brought to a new dragon to foster them.

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