Purchase: PDF / Print / Fantasy Grounds
Footsteps in the Snow
by Jonathan G. Nelson
Table of Contents
- Adventure Background
- Adventure Synopsis
- Adventure Hook
- Chapter One
- Chapter Two
- Chapter Three
- Loi'Tok Location Key
- Adventure Conclusion
- A3 – Experience Awards
A local hunter was stalking highly prized prey north of the Dark Wood when he noticed something out of the ordinary. A group of figures appeared to be celebrating atop an old Vikmordere Barbarian Burial Mound. As the hunter sneaked closer he spied many Vikmordere with their bows in the air, dancing and chanting as if preparing for war. The hunter quickly withdrew and hid for a time before charging through the Dark Wood and warning the village. The mayor immediately dispatched a group of soldiers to the burial mound to capture or slay the Vikmordere spotted there.
The soldiers never returned.
- The party travels through the dangerous Dark Wood north toward the Loi'Tok Burial Mound.
- After a ferocious battle with a devil, the group stays at the Hunter's Cabin and proceeds through the rest of Dark Wood, arriving at the burial mound the following morning. (Optional)
- The party begins exploring the burial mound when a group of Vikmordere (Barbarian) warriors arrive looking for their kin.
- While here the party may choose to explore the mound in search of treasure or ancient magic.
- If the party explores the entire area they will find that the Monster of Loi'Tok Burial Mound (a Kra'Tah) is responsible for the death of the entire group of soldiers.
The mayor of a local village hires the PCs to travel to the Loi'Tok Burial Mound and search for a group of missing soldiers.
If you wish to utilize our original Campaign Setting please proceed with Chapter One.
If you are using your own campaign setting you may skip directly to Chapter Two. The mayor or a public official of any town or village may hire the PCs to find their missing soldiers and direct the PCs to the Loi'Tok Burial Mound.
Rybalka City Hall
As you enter Rybalka City Hall you find Mayor Igor Leonid pacing back and forth wringing his hands. He turns to face you. “Although I would love to exchange formalities, we must get straight to business. Please, come inside and have a seat.”
You make yourselves comfortable while the mayor continues his pacing.
“You all have been invited here by the King himself to serve your Kingdom and preserve this bastion of truth and justice on the edge of evil Vikmordere territory. I’m sure growing up you heard the horror stories about the dreaded Vikmordere. They raid and steal from our people, killing even helpless women and children. They are foul beasts indeed, and although we tolerate the settled village people to stay here in Rybalka, the Vikmordere tribes are not permitted anywhere near the village or its environs.”
“We currently patrol a border in a fifteen mile circumference, killing any Vikmordere on sight. Although it’s sometimes difficult for our patrols to cover this much ground, we have hunters and trappers working those lands who report to us on a regular basis. A few nights ago an old hunter found me at the tavern drinking with my men. He told us he had found a great burial mound through the Dark Wood, about 15 miles north of Rybalka. Atop this mound were those bloody Viks! They were doin’ some sort of ritual, dancing about calling out to the animal spirits or some such thing. Most likely they’re moving back into the area and preparing to launch an attack. From what the hunter said it was most likely just a small scouting party, no more than six to ten Viks. I dispatched some of my best men to travel to the burial mound and slay those no good barbarians.”
“It has been over three days and I haven’t heard from my men nor have any of the returning trappers or hunters. I can only assume that the Vikmordere have killed them and are quite possibly eyeing Rybalka as their next target. I need your help in protecting this village. If you can locate and stop this raiding party you will keep the village safe! Rybalka will pay you 50 gold pieces each for assisting in this matter. I’ve seen many cowards turn tail and run outta here back the way they came when confronted with the danger of the cold and unforgiving wilderness. I’ve seen grown men piss their pants at the sight of the beasts of the Dark Wood and scream all the way back to the Klavek Homeland. I’m not giving you all of your gold until you finish this first job for me. For now you each get 25, when the job is done and the Vikmordere are dead you get the other 25. For each of my men you bring back alive I’ll throw in another 25 gold to your group. If you bring em all back I’ll have Quorron over at the forge make you the finest weapons you ever did wield*.”
*Offer of 1 Masterwork weapon per PC.
Mayor Igor Leonid will send Lieutenant Tolosh along with the PCs to make sure they are trustworthy and follow his orders. This man will remain quiet and refrain from even small talk with the PCs, stating that he is there only to perform his duty. He has only set foot in the Dark Wood once and knows to travel during the day and keep to the main path at all times. Those who wander in the Dark Wood never return.
A map is given to the PCs which shows the basic route from Rybalka, up the peninsula and through the Dark Wood to the Hunter’s Cabin. From the Hunter’s Cabin the trail continues up and out of the Dark Wood to a location marked only as “Burial Mound” far to the north in what appears to be a barren plain of snow.
If it is nighttime the mayor will ask the PCs to return to their inn and get some rest but leave first thing in the morning. If daytime, the mayor will rush the PCs on their way asking Lt. Tolosh to lead the PCs through Dark Wood.
Use the map of the Rybalkan Peninsula to freestyle the PCs travel through Dark Wood. If you wish to introduce encounters you may use any of the following adversaries.
Encounters in Dark Wood
If you prefer to stick to a straightforward plot simply skip these encounters.
As the sun gets lower in the sky and threatens to hide behind the distant mountains you finally reach your refuge. A well-built cabin with a stable and small outhouse beckon you ever closer. Smoke twists up from the chimney, tempting you with thoughts of a hot fire and warm meal. The buildings are coated with thick sheets of solid ice. The limbs of tall, dark evergreens hang down, heavy with thick dollops of fresh snow. A gigantic human warrior suddenly bursts from the cabin, glowing axe in hand. He looks around frantically as if searching for someone. The warrior’s eyes hone in on your group and he begins to trudge through the snow in your direction.
The eerie jangle of chains can be heard close by. The noise grows louder and is accompanied by a deep growl.
Instinctively you leap backwards just as a fearsome devil covered in chains bursts from the snow bank! Only one eye is visible through the thick shroud of twisted metal links. The warrior from the cabin raises the axe over his head and charges toward the devil.
Cual assists the party in combat and offers healing potions as needed. He has already consumed a Potion of Bull's Strength and wades through combat wildly swinging FeatherAxe.
After the battle has concluded continue with the descriptive text below.
After the devil has been slain, the huge hunter-warrior takes his long handled battle axe and cleaves the devil's head from its body. He lifts up the head, still covered in barbed chains and dripping with black blood and carries it to his cabin's porch where he sets it on display with a few other devil heads. He turns the heads so they all face out towards the dark forest. He then hangs his axe next to the door and turns to face you. "You are brave warriors. I am Cual Beartooth. This is my home. It is almost dark. Come inside, you stay here."
The warrior begins to remove his armor. The armor is alien to you, with devilish symbols and runes seemingly branded deep into the metal. Underneath Cual is dressed in leathers and furs skinned from the animals and monsters of the forest. He stands tall for a human, almost 7 feet with long, greasy, and unkempt brown hair, and partially rotten teeth. His skin looks thick and tough and he stands as though even the strongest wind could not knock him down. He turns and walks inside, leaving the door ajar so that you may follow. A blazing fireplace beckons you inwards as you instinctively move towards the warmth.
Inside the cabin rests Jorn Feldridge, one of the soldiers originally dispatched by Mayor Igor Leonid to investigate the appearance of Vikmordere near the Burial Mound north of the Dark Wood. He lies upon the ground on a small cot foaming at the mouth and jabbering in his sleep. Cual explains that he found him with minor wounds collapsed in the forest. Cual dragged him back to the cabin and warmed him up, feeding him bear broth with medicinal herbs in an attempt to nurse him back to health. After the soldier slept soundly Cual followed the tracks to see where the man had come from. The trail led far to the north to a great Vikmordere Burial Mound. Upon seeing this Cual returned to the cabin, not wanting to stray far in case his home was attacked while away.
Cual refuses to leave his cabin to assist the PCs but will give them some medicinal herbs and bear broth which functions as a standard healing potion. Cual's other healing potions are also made from this mixture. Cual does not share the recipe and explains that this particular secret is that of the Dark Wood and he is not privy to shed anymore light on that subject.
If one of the PCs casts "Remove Fear" on Jorn Feldridge he will stop the incessant rambling and foaming at the mouth. After a few minutes he will awake from his coma. Jorn will recant the tale of the Kra'Tah attacking the soldiers at the burial mound. He's not sure if anyone survived. He was too overwhelmed with fear and fled in a panic. After fleeing, Jorn ran into a strange headless man in the woods that cast foul magic on him. This is the last thing he remembers.
The party may choose to return the soldier to Rybalka for a reward and resupply before continuing to the mound, or they may continue on their way letting Cual escort the young man back to Rybalka in a few days.
In either case, continue when the party is ready to venture to the Vikmordere Burial Mound Loi'Tok.
History of Loi’Tok Burial Mound
Long ago the ancients created this place to bury and honor their dead.
After many centuries passed the tomb fell into disuse and was forgotten. The tomb was rediscovered many centuries later by the Snoqua, a large Vikmordere tribe.
The Snoqua tribe spent years restoring the main chamber. They replaced crumbling stone pillars with gigantic cedar totem poles. This once again made the place structurally sound. The Vikmordere Snoqua tribe tore apart the existing temple above the main chamber. They converted the former temple of the Ancients into a sanctioned burial chamber (mausoleum) for their most honored warriors and shamans. (Tribal chieftains are buried in a hidden sacred shrine in the mountains far from here.) The original name of this place has been lost to the ages, thus the Snoqua renamed the place Loi’Tok which means “Champion’s Rest” in Vikmordere.
During the past year the tribal chief periodically sent scouting parties to the area. They continually found the area around the Loi’Tok Burial Mound devoid of Klavekian patrols.
Two weeks ago, a Champion of the Snoqua people died in combat protecting the tribe. The chief gathered the Snoqua people and deemed the Loi’Tok Burial Mound and surrounding environs safe. The Snoqua people performed many rituals involving song and dance to praise the Ancestor Spirit.
To celebrate the fallen warrior and the reclamation of the site, six warriors led by Shaman Wey’Jo traveled to the Loi’Tok. Their mission was clear: to bury the remains of the Snoqua Champion and spend the day in ritualistic song and dance blessing the Ancestor Spirit.
The Snoqua warriors led by Shaman Wey’Jo arrived at Loi’Tok almost one week ago. They spent the first couple hours on the surface of the Burial Mound singing, dancing, and praying around the colorful Vikmordere family flags. The flags mark the location of each family where cedar caskets belonging to the greatest warriors are stacked.
A Rybalkan hunter was stalking highly prized prey north of the Dark Wood when he noticed something out of the ordinary. A group of figures appeared to be celebrating atop an old Vikmordere Burial Mound. As the hunter sneaked closer he spied many Vikmordere with their bows in the air, dancing and chanting as if preparing for war. The hunter quickly withdrew and hid for a time before charging through the Dark Wood and warning the village of Rybalka. The mayor immediately dispatched a group of Rybalkan Soldiers to travel to the burial mound and capture or slay the Vikmordere spotted there.
In every story there is the unknown element that someone forgot to add into the equation. The unknown that makes your blood curdle and your stomach fold in upon itself. The unknown in this case hails from the deepest, darkest, most vile recesses of the Serpent Lake. A monster only spoken of in hushed whispers and tribal legends called the “Kra’Tah” by the Vikmordere. It is rumored to snatch Vikmordere children out of their encampments in the darkness of night and drag them kicking and screaming into the dark depths of the Serpent Lake from which they never return.
A few years ago an especially nasty Kra’Tah decided to make Loi’Tok its new home. After being driven out of its natural habitat by adolescent serpent spawn it sought a new watery place to call home. Lucky for it, Loi’Tok not only had an easy cavern entrance for it to clamber down, but it also sports a fine pool of tepid hot spring water. The pool feeds into a couple caverns ideal for hiding and stashing bodies. The best part about the Kra'Tah's new home is the reflection pool. This pool located in the main chamber makes a perfect place from which to snatch unsuspecting prey.
After paying their respects to the Ancestor Spirit, Shaman Wey’Jo and the Snoqua warriors descended the stairs into the main chamber. Prior to climbing the stairs to the mausoleum they stopped to pray before the idol statue.
While praying to the ancients the Kra’Tah crept slowly to the surface of the water. Striking without warning the creature killed two of the warriors before they knew what hit them. The Vikmordere panicked and fumbled with their weapons while the creature tore through their group. Wey’Jo the Shaman was gripped by fear and fled through a secret door hidden behind the giant idol statue. Frantic, he left the passage open and disappeared into the lower tunnels to take refuge from the creature. The creature dragged the Snoqua one by one into the reflection pool leaving only puddles of water and trails of blood as evidence of the slaughter.
After a couple of days the Rybalkan soldiers arrived and entered the burial mound. Wey’Jo incorrectly assumed that his tribe had arrived (to find their missing kinsmen) and rushed into the main chamber. The Rybalkan soldiers fired arrows on Wey'Jo. Wey’Jo stunned at first, answered by engaging them with powerful tribal spells channeled from the Ancestor Spirit. The wild commotion coaxed the Kra’Tah to the surface. Wey’Jo, badly wounded by the Rybalkan arrows fell to the ground just as the Kra’Tah erupted from the water.
The Rybalkan soldiers turned their attention to the monster while Wey’Jo dragged himself back to the secret passage. The Rybalkan soldiers fought valiantly and dealt many nasty blows to the monster, but their soft bodies were no match for the Kra’Tah’s sharp claws. One by one, all of the soldiers fell to the ferocious crustaceous monster. Wey’Jo crawled into the secret passageway, pushing the door shut behind him (lest the creature follow) and dragged himself down half the flight of stairs. Finally, with no more blood to give, Wey’Jo collapsed and died.
The Kra’Tah monster spent the next few hours pulling its fresh kills into the water and taking them to her lair.
Arrival at Loi'Tok Burial Mound
The PCs arrive at the burial mound almost 5 days after the battle between the Rybalkan soldiers and the Kra'Tah. The Rybalkans aren't the only ones launching a rescue attempt, the Vikmordere have also sent out a search party to find out what happened to their men.
This group of Vikmordere arrives at Loi'Tok exactly three hours after the PCs.
Keep careful track of the PCs movements and passing time as they progress through Loi'Tok. After exactly three hours have passed, the Vikmordere will arrive and attack the PCs (from behind if possible). The Snoqua tribal members believe that the PCs are Klavekian invaders and are responsible for the death of their men. The Vikmordere will fight to the death. If captured the Vikmordere swallow a small hard poisonous berry that causes instant death. Each warrior keeps one such berry tucked in between his gum and lip during combat just in case. All Vikmordere have heard the terrible stories of Klavekian torture and do not wish to find themselves on the other side of their barbaric blades.
Combat Trigger: Exactly 3 hours in Loi'Tok
Loi'Tok Location Key
Read the following when the PCs spot the burial mound from afar:
Between the monotony of the white snow and the gray sky, there is a bright flash of color up ahead.
1. Funerary Flags
Colorful flags on long cedar poles driven deep through the snow into the hard soil beneath. Each flag represents a different Vikmordere family burial plot in the Mausoleum directly beneath.
You now stand amongst the brightly colored flags which are attached to solid cedar poles. Each flag is decorated with unique shapes and vivid colors depicting what appear to be family crests. The flag poles are driven deep into the snow and coated with a thick layer of oil. Not a single pole leans despite the constant wind ripping across the barren snow covered plains.
If the group stays in this area for too long a pack of wild wolves will catch the scent of the party and begin to approach cautiously. Privately roll a Spot/Perception DC 18 check for each party member. Those with Knowledge: Nature or Survival skills obtain a +2 bonus to their checks. The party is considered surprised unless someone in the party spots the wolves which approach cautiously up the opposite side of the mound.
Choose the number of wolves based on your players' ability and their total character levels. (For beginning players I would recommend 2 wolves whereas an advanced party of veteran players may be able to handle as many as 6 or even 8 wolves.)
A stone structure originally built as shelter from the elements while workers constructed Loi-Tok. A loose stone slab has been slid away to reveal stairs leading to area 3.
A solitary stone structure sits off to the north of the burial mound at ground level. Four rectangular, grey stones hold aloft a square stone roof. Boot prints in the snow appear to come from all directions, converging at this structure. Within the structure are the remnants of a small fire and some small bones strewn about. The floor of the structure is constructed of rectangular tiles about 2'x3'. One of these tiles has been pulled loose and slid out of the way revealing a set of stone stairs leading into the darkness.
This steep flight of stairs provides a means of entry to Loi’Tok’s main chamber. The stairs contain a trap which resets to protect the tomb from grave robbers. (Rybalkans spotted and avoided/Vikmordere were already aware of it.) Bones are scattered at the bottom of the stairs from past invaders.
This steep flight of stairs leads into a surprisingly warm darkness beyond. The faint smell of decay wafts up from somewhere deep below. With each step, you progress further and further underground.
Just before the halfway point of the stairs is a guillotine-like trap which drops a sharp blade from the ceiling above.
4A. Main Chamber
The main chamber is a 150'x150' circular room with gigantic carved cedar totem poles which replaced aging stone pillars. A gigantic Idol rests against the east wall with a reflection pool directly in front of it. Stairs from area 3 enter from the west facing the Idol statue head-on. Two sets of stairs skirt the north and south walls curving up to the Vikmordere Mausoleum.
The stairs come to an end in a vast circular underground chamber. Illuminated by your light source, you can see what appears to be a finely built reflection pool up ahead. There are puddles of water tinged with blood on the floor around the pool. Beyond the pool is a large idol statue resting upon a stone dais overlooking the water. Your light dances upon the water and a perfect reflection of the statue stares back up at you. A trail of blood to the left of the statue scrapes up two stone stairs onto the dais and disappears into the darkness behind the statue.
Puddles of water and blood surround the reflection pool. A few swords, bows, and arrows are scattered about chamber. The signs of battle are apparent, but the owners of the weapons are nowhere to be found. The swords are of Rybalkan make while the bows and arrows are covered in feathers, beads, and fangs and could only be Vikmordere. As you peer into the water your eyes focus on a dark hole beneath the surface of the water. The bottom of the pool has a large hole which appears to have been smashed open from the other side. A bit of human flesh dangles from the jagged edges of the hole, a grotesque clue which waves at you as the water gently moves and laps at the side of the pool. Your eyes refocus on the surface of the rippling water.
Two additional flights of stairs skirt either side of this room headed upwards to another room directly above you.
4B. Reflection Pool
The reflection pool perfectly reflects the still image of the ancient idol, gazing up at itself in the water. The outside of the pool is made from precisely chiseled stones engraved with strange runes and symbols.
The reflection pool itself is 5’ deep. Over the years the structural integrity of the pool has failed and many cracks have formed. The Kra'Tah easily broke through from below upon discovering this area, creating a 10' wide hole at the bottom of the reflection pool. This allows the Kra’Tah to move from the underground caves into the reflection pool and the main chamber above. The water in the caves below is naturally heated by hot springs. By the time the water reaches the surface it is luke-warm and thus produces a small amount of steam.
The Kra’Tah monster has fed heavily as of late and thus will only investigate loud noises. If a loud noise is made (falling bricks from area 4C) it will arrive in 1d6 minutes to investigate. It will ease into the reflection pool through the hole below, peering up at the surface to zero in on its targets. Once an opportune moment arises, so will the Kra'Tah.
Statistical information on the Kra'Tah is located in area 11.
If you use the Kra'Tah early in the adventure you may want to introduce a "mate" which remains in the lair below, guarding some freshly laid eggs.
4C. Idol & Secret Passage
This stone idol was placed here to watch over the spirits of the 8 Lords and protect their slumber from interruption. The idol may have been sculpted to represent a god or a spiritual leader but the truth has been lost to time. It is a fairly large and imposing statue measuring about 25' tall.
The idol appears to wear a necklace (actually part of the stone carving) which is fashioned after the Sacred Necklace found in area 8.
If the statue is inspected closely the words "Mai'Tak Kobu'Cha" are found carved into his back.
A large stone statue silently dominates this room resting upon a large stone dais. The statue is carved to resemble a slightly overweight man sitting cross legged with arms outstretches into the air. His hands are open, the left palm up and the right palm facing you. Around his neck he wears a meticulously detailed necklace also carved from stone.
If one of the players takes a closer look at the necklace, read the following:
The necklace is carved to appear as a beaded necklace with spherical beads encircling the statue's neck. Each bead is finely detailed with small markings which resemble maps of huge islands on the ocean. The beads converge upon a large amulet- a waning moon with a green sphere to the top right and a purple sphere to the bottom left.
The green and purple spheres can be pressed like buttons. Pressing both of the spherical buttons opens the secret door shown below.
The resting place of over 75 of the greatest Vikmordere warriors and shamans, this mausoleum is a sacred place to all Vikmordere, not only those in the Snoqua tribe. Ornate engraved cedar caskets are expertly designed to neatly stack one on top of another. Great warriors from the same family are stacked many caskets high, some reaching almost to the ceiling, numbering up to 8 per stack. Due to the expert design of the caskets and magically enhanced wood, these stacks will remain stable indefinitely. The Vikmordere are buried as tradition dictates - naked and without valuables of any kind. Grave robbers will find no treasure here.
Read after the group climbs the stairs from the Main Chamber.
As you finish your climb up the stairs you are enveloped in the strong scent of cedar. The air up here is surprisingly cool despite the warm room below. Large rectangular crates are stacked nearly to the ceiling throughout this vast chamber.
As the group continues into the Mausoleum read this:
You progress further into the chamber and find it completely filled with these crates. You shine your [light source] to and fro to get a better vantage. Suddenly you come to a realization, these aren't crates- they're coffins. Interlocking cedar coffins carved with intricate symbols and patterns and painted with tribal paint. These are the dead of the Vikmordere. The stacks are sorted by family and the flags you saw outside must be directly overhead, marking the location of each stack. You get the feeling you have entered a place where you are not welcome.
In the middle of this room is an altar. It is all that is left of the temple that once graced this chamber before it was converted into a tomb. The altar is solid marble and engraved with three circles. Each circle is a different size and color- large yellow, medium green, and small purple. They are arranged in a horizontal line from biggest to smallest. By pressing both the green and purple symbols at the same time a strange grinding noise will issue forth from someplace far below. This action opens the concealed panel in the True Crypt of the 8 Lords in area 8.
The Vikmordere's greatest warriors have been charged with watching over the Vikmordere Mausoleum. Even in death, they stand vigilant and alert.
Beyond the secret door a flight of stairs descends 50' to the south, stops on a landing and turns to the east descending 100’. There is a pit trap located at the base of the stairs entering the False Crypt of the Ancients.
The corpse of the Vikmordere Shaman Wey'Jo rests upon the landing in a pool of blood. When the party comes upon him he looks to be at peace in death. Rybalkan arrows stick out of his stomach, chest, and back. Wey'Jo has the following: heavy fur clothing, leather satchel, tribal rations, 2 waterskins, walking stick, cedar holy symbol engraved with a wolf howling at a moon shaped like the statue in area 4c, and a leather pouch filled with herbs, small bones, and feathers.
This false crypt was designed to fool grave robbers into believing they had reached the final burial place of the Eight Lords of the Ancients. Eight Stone sarcophagi line the walls to the north and south containing only ancient crumbling bones. Each sarcophagus is trapped to further persuade robbers to back out and return to the surface. This false crypt is 100’x50’. A cracked domed ceiling dominates the room. Flecks of paint are the only signs of a once great mural.
An old tattered tapestry hangs on the far wall (adjacent to area 8) which originally concealed the secret door. Now that it has rotted apart it shouldn't be too difficult for curious PCs to figure out that a secret door lies beyond.
After descending the stairs and dealing with the pit trap you enter a long chamber containing 8 stone sarcophagi. Your footsteps echo off the walls and throw dust into the air. It seems as if no one has been down here in hundreds of years. A rotted and torn black tapestry partially conceals the wall at the far end of this chamber.
Every sarcophagus is full of dust and crumbling human bones. There is no treasure to be found in this room.
A trapped, locked, and hidden secret door on the eastern wall hides the true Crypt of the Eight Lords.
The Crypt of the Eight Lords of the Ancients has not been open since the day it was sealed. Powerful adversaries await those who dare disturb the Eight Lords of the Ancients.
Read the following as the PCs enter:
You slowly urge the revolving secret door open. A thick dust spotted with clumps of old cobwebs rushes out across the floor and blasts you in the face with dry air. The scent of death upon you, before you open your eyes you know already that which you enter- a tomb. An ancient tomb.
Eight large stone sarcophagi rest upon eight individual stone dais. Each dais is inlaid with a precious colored stone which in turn matches a stone set into the lid of each sarcophagus.
The walls are also stone and have been carved into an elaborate work of art. Eight men on horseback gather in a circle beside a forest and a lake, arms outstretched toward the heavens. Above the men are three suns or perhaps moons- the largest colored yellow, the next green, and the smallest purple. Descending from the spherical objects in the sky is a glittering golden crown encrusted with fine jewels. Devils and demons can be seen on the edges of the carving taking refuge and hiding in the forests and beneath the earth.
The reflection pool empties into caves filled with naturally heated water fed by springs below the surface.
The PCs will need to either hold their breath as they swim the length of the tunnel or use other magical means to breathe. A light source will also be needed as the tunnels are dark and full of slippery black algae.
The water here is warm and soothing. As you swim along you notice strange dark algae growing on the nearby rocks. It seems to be absorbing the light from your [light source].
The algae is completely harmless. In fact, the black algae is edible! For each 1 ounce portion of black algae consumed, 1 hp is healed. There are over 10 lbs. of black algae growing underwater throughout these caves.
There is a 20% chance that the Kra’Tah will be encountered in these tunnels. If a large amount of noise is made the Kra’Tah will come to investigate and will arrive within mere minutes.
The tunnels go on for about 150’ before splitting off into a vertical shaft (area 10) but also continues under water for another 50’ to the Monster Lair (area 11) where the Kra’Tah lives.
A brief respite from holding ones breath awaits in this cave. Claw marks can be seen on the wet rocks here where the Kra’Tah has made its way up and down the passage. A large amount of steam gathers here and cannot escape making visibility poor (10’ or less).
Footing here is treacherous and one must make balance or acrobatic checks while moving. A failed check causes a slip and fall onto the jagged rocks (1d6) or onto the rocks and then into the water (1d6+2).
There is a 10% chance of encountering the Kra’Tah upon these slippery rocks. If substantial noise is made in this area the Kra’Tah will arrive within 1-2 minutes.
Suggested Soundboard Audio: "Cave- Water Dripping"
This natural cave is 80’ wide x 100’ deep with a 10’ wide vertical tunnel at the back of the cave which leads directly to the surface. The tunnel exits in a snow covered rock field just north of the Burial Mound.
Due to the warming effect of the hot springs on the surrounding rock, this cave is a hotbed of activity for creatures not typically seen in this cold climate. Giant rats, large spiders, and poisonous fireflies feed on the carrion left by the Kra’Tah throughout this cavern.
You emerge from the warm water into a large cave 80' wide and so deep you cannot make out where it ends. The strong smell of decaying flesh hits you firmly in the face, it is so strong it drops you to your knees.
After losing the contents of your stomach on the cave floor you begin to peer around. Spider webs decorate the ceiling like tapestries and scattered pools of rancid water dot the cave floor. The sound of critters scurrying over rocks can be heard echoing faintly off the wet cavern walls. Nearby, the sucked dry remains of a Rybalkan soldier lay ripped open- organs and entrails strewn about the ground by scavengers. Other bodies can be seen in the distance piled among refuse and scattered coins and weaponry.
The Rybalkan corpse has no valuables as most have fallen out as his body was dragged throughout the cave.
When the PCs move deeper into the cave read this:
One by one small fireflies light up, illuminating the interior of the cave. A dozen corpses litter the floor, half eaten and now in the early stages of decomposition. The smell is so strong one must cover one's face to keep from vomiting. 5 of the dead are Rybalka, and the other 6 are Vikmordere. Suddenly the fireflies throughout the cavern begin to surround the group and slowly gravitate towards you. Their glow grows brighter and you see each one has a long barb protruding from its abdomen.
If the Kra'Tah was not killed previously, read the following before proceeding with the Poisonous Firefly combat:
As you prepare to defend yourself you hear the sound of something large moving at the back of the cavern. Fading into the light is a terrifying form with a shiny red and black chitinous exoskeleton. It has long crab-like legs lined with sharp barbs like a hundred sharpened daggers. It hisses and opens a gaping maw filled with razor sharp black teeth and moves towards the group.
The adventurer's journey back to Cual's Cabin in Dark Wood is uneventful. Upon arriving they find that the Rybalkan soldier has awoken. The soldier recants the tale of the other soldier's deaths at the claws of the Kra'Tah. Cual safely escorts the group back to Rybalka. Igor Leonid is saddened at the news of his soldiers' deaths; he personally notifies each soldier's family and makes funeral arrangements with the local temple. He begins to assess the situation and promises the PCs they will be making the journey to the burial mound again, but for now he has another mission for them: A4 - Forest for the Trees.
A3 – Experience Awards
- 100 per - Retrieving a belonging from each Rybalkan soldier to show the mayor
- 500 - Activating the trigger on the altar in area 5
- 800 – Retrieving the Sacred Necklace from area 8
- 500 - Slaying the Kra'Tah (this is in addition to the CR award)
- 100 each – Support Roles: Cartographer (map-maker), Treasure Keeper, Adventure Log, Time Keeper/Initiative Tracker
- 100-300 each – Role-Playing experience (varies depending on if player role-played and/or altered their voice/accent)
- CR experience – (Combat, Trap Removal, etc.)
- Any additional awards you feel are appropriate