Free Module: The School of Magic

Rampaging Ogre

Donhurst Beach is a pious town built around a huge tree. The ruler is fair and just, and is respected by the populace. Humans are the dominant race (about 50%), but there's a large population of Halflings (25%) and Gnomes (20%) with some tension between them and the humans. There are rumors at the tavern (The Blue Wing) and among the population about a rampaging ogre that steals and demands tribute, which has grown larger and bolder as of late.

The party will be hired to deal with rampaging ogre either via a job posting or direct request from Donhurst's ruler.

Hadwisa Kensley, Female Human
Description: This exceptionally lanky woman wears a violet vest and prefers brown and yellow shirts. Her boots appear to have been at one point steel toed but are quite worn down. Her blonde hair is knotted and matted. Her half smiles and green eyes are beguile and draw you in.
Personality: She is erratic and paranoid, and believes the ogre is going to abduct her. She is used to getting what she wants, in part because she's such a meticulous planner.

Offer the party enough gold or perhaps a magic item to pique their interest. The ogre's whereabouts are unknown, but many villagers have seen it so questioning them is suggested.

Speaking with villagers and farmers in the countryside will reveal clues about the ogre's whereabouts. The first villager (Cora Jamjar, female halfling) they speak to had the ogre steal some cattle, but didn't see it or where it came from, but she'll point the party towards a farm that was raided multiple times. The farmer (Alexandre Clare, Male Human) has had different cattle and crops taken on different days, and managed to see the ogre. He'll describe it as huge, grotesque, and terrifying, and how he hid each time he saw it. Each time, the ogre took a small road into the valley. Within the valley they'll find an herbalist (Theirastra Crane, Female Half-Elf) who leaves regular tribute to the ogre to leave her alone. She'll describe the ogre similarly, and say it crosses into the desert towards an old oasis that many of the migrating animals stop at.

The travel is hot across a desert, hitting 59°C (139°F) during the day. PCs need to dress lightly to escape the heat, and drink twice as much water (2 gallons/day for a medium creature) to avoid exhaustion. A DC 5 Con save needs to be made every hour which increases each time, and PCs that are not dressed in light armor or less have disadvantage on the save. Navigating is a DC 10 Survival, while foraging is DC 20.

Partway through the travel a sandstorm will kick up, giving disadvantage on any sight or hearing, and ranged weapon attack rolls. Open flames are extinguished and fog is dispersed. Any sort of flying movement is impossible. The distance can be as long or short as appropriate for your campaign. If you enjoy doing wilderness travel and resource management with encounters then it can take a week, or it can just be a day of travel with a combat in between.

At the end of their travel they come to a verdant oasis, with colorful flowers of varying sizes. The waters are clear but deep, and at the bottom of the lake is a large building. A sleeping stone giant covered in plants and moss is also here. The stone giant covers a tunnel that leads to the building at the bottom of the lake, but is difficult to wake. If the party manages to wake the giant he still won't let them pass, acting as a sentry for the school. The party will need to discover who the giant will allow to pass (or even what his purpose is), and then convince him that they're students of the school before he'll allow them in. If they choose to fight the giant, you can use the CR 7 version in the Monster Manual (p 156) or the CR 10 version in Volo's Guide to Monsters (p 150). For most players attacking the giant is suicide, but if you need a more challenging fight for a higher level party you can have more giants stir when combat begins (have them burst out of the ground or rock faces). If the party is totally unable to move the giant, they can swim to the bottom of the lake instead. You can have them deal with their breath, keeping their things from getting soaked, etc. if they decide to go that route.

Sunken Building

The inside of the building has air, with magic and clever engineering preventing the water from entering. The inside appears to be some sort of school, with wide halls leading past classrooms, lecture halls, cafeteria, gym, and dorms for the students.

Dangerous old magics serve as traps and hazards for the players as they explore. Staircases move and shift as the players walk up them, some will even change direction back down, or flip upside down. Various ghosts can be seen at the edge of their periphery or at the end of long hallways. The ghosts are actually old illusion magic gone awry, but they'll avoid letting the players get close enough to investigate, running out of sight or into paintings to get away.

There are a number of false doors, some that ask nonsense riddles or require the players to do something specific to open them. The false doors can lead back to previous rooms they've explored, or just to a wall, or even right behind where they're standing. Some of the doors will caution the players to stay out, these can either be faculty rooms or lead to the den of dangerous magical beasts. If you use the Combat Generator you can set the type to Aberration, Construct, Monstrosity, Ooze, or Elemental and click Random Medium for appropriate monsters.

The school was built over a strong leyline (as are most magic schools) that various old spells feed on to keep going. That means there's a lot of magical traps that the players must deal with as they explore. You can use the Trap Generator to generate some of appropriate level for your party, here's also a couple:

Spring Trap
An area is warded with a detect magic spell. When magic is detected within the spell's radius the trap is triggered which triggers a massive coil to spring up and launch the target.
Effect: One target, a massive spring coil flings the target into a wall or other trap/hazard. If catapulted into a wall, DC 13 DEX save or take 10 (2d10) damage.
Trigger: magic detection, activates when magic is detected in an area.
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 area. A successful dispel magic (DC 13) cast on the area destroys the trap.

Spore Trap
A door or chest is rigged to activate when opened, which opens vents in the floor and releases poisonous spores into the area.
Effect: Targets all creatures within a 10 ft. square area, Poisonous spores are released which deal 16 (2d10) poison damage and DC 14 CON save or be poisoned for 1 hour.
Trigger: door, activates when a door or chest is opened.
Countermeasures: The DC to spot the attached wire is 20. A successful DC 10 Dexterity check using thieves' tools breaks the wire attached to the door 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 spores.

There's a greenhouse that looks out on the flora and fauna at the bottom of the lake. Various strange and magical plants grow in the greenhouse, and some may be willing to chat in Sylvan or Primordial. The plants don't know much of anything that happens outside of the greenhouse or lake floor, but they'll be able to recall the various students and gardening lessons that used to take place.

There's also various clues and signs of the ogre's passing. Scratches on the walls and floors give hint towards the ogre's lair. There are also marks where he dragged his huge club along the floor or through furniture. Your players should encounter a couple traps and encounters with magical beasts before finally reaching the ogre's lair. Here's a map below you can use, or create your own, or just improv the map on the fly. If you're using a battlemat just draw halls and rooms as they're needed, of if you're using dungeon tiles then just place them out in a similar fashion. Have the ogre's lair come after the 5th or 6th room / encounter, to ensure the players have enough time to explore the school while also getting their resources depleted.

School Map

The room before the ogre's lair is when they'll encounter and have to fight some of the “ghosts” they saw before. They're quite corporeal and capable of delivering damage, but will fizzle out of existence when defeated. If a player has Detect Magic and uses their action they can learn that the ghosts are actually illusions made of magic. Here's a group you could use for a level 4 party: https://www.kassoon.com/dnd/5e/generate-encounter/illusion-ambush/446/ or use the generator to make one appropriate for your party.

Within the ogre's lair is a desk, messy bookshelves, and a number of experiment desks with drawings, vials, and concoctions. A gnome illusionist is working here, with no sign of the ogre or any evidence that it was ever here.

Bilbron Ironhide, Male Gnome
Description: This western man's face is deformed and paralyzed on one side. As such, he slurs his words together. He wears rags and sports a simple walking cane. He has shaved his head bald. His eyes are a pleasant violet.
Personality: He is curt in most of his responses. He prefers to keep his word usage to a minimum to avoid giving away unnecessary information. He is terrible with names forgetting people's names several times before they finally stick; this causes him no end of embarrassment.

If the party speaks with the illusionist, they'll learn that he remained at the school to tend to it and prevent the lingering magic from going out of control. It's also along a powerful leyline, aiding his research without interference from nobles. He'll be familiar with the ogre, and inform them that it's just an illusion. He'll be genuinely surprised if he learns of its rampage out of the school, saying most illusions stick close to the leyline (and therefore the school) to maintain themselves.

The illusory ogre reappears and has an intelligence far beyond a simple ogre. The magics within have achieved a sort of sentience and wants to kill the party and the gnome to prevent anyone from stopping its growth. Combat may start right away, or after conversation proves unsuccessful. The illusion will pull a piece off itself to create any additional combatants you need for the fight. Here's one you can use for level 4s but if you type "ogre" into the search you can make a hard encounter for any size or level. The gnome will assist the party in the battle, he's a CR 3 Illusionist (Volo's Guide to Monsters p. 214) that can use Illusion spells up to 4th level, and can cast Displacement on himself with a bonus action.

After defeating the illusion, the party can choose what to do about the gnome and school. They have technically defeated the ogre and can take his club as proof without needing to do anything else. They can choose to leave the gnome be, or not, or tell Hadwisa about the school, or not. This could lead into more adventures at the school, or dealing with the political ramifications of the school's discovery. If they decide to leave the gnome to tend to the school, he could offer them one of the talking plants to take with them as a memento.

Need more help with your campaign? Check out all the other tools, generators, and articles: https://www.kassoon.com/dnd/

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