Beldam of Stygian Glade is an adventure location and scenario for four to six characters of levels 4-7
In a deep, dark forest there lives an old witch named Nayowayown who, long ago, was a very healthy and levelheaded young woman. In the early days, when war came to the forest village, the woman’s husband and his forces tried to protect everyone, but the might of the enemy was too great; he was slain on the battlefield in what is now known as Stygian Glade. In this glade, the woman pined for her lover, perpetually cradling his corpse and building a hut made from the bones of his comrades.
As the years crept on, she found a way to commune with the spirits of those slain and bring them back as ghostly apparitions to guard her hut, Stygian Glade, and the surrounding forest. She buried the bones of her enemies in the caves beneath her hut, destined to rise again if disturbed.
Nayowayown’s undead guardians have strayed too far from the forest and attack a traveling merchant who the characters encounter not far from the wood. The merchant begs for the party’s help, offering good coin. Once the battle has concluded she asks if they will investigate the forest and stop the undead attacks which have been plaguing this roadway for weeks. In return she will tell them the location where she camped one night and happened to see a group of Chonian bandits, moving treasure into a cave in the hills.
If the characters enter the forest, they must make a successful DC 14 Wisdom save.
If they fail, have the player roll 1d6. Any conditions listed below are automatically removed the instant the party leaves the forest.
1 = The character hears whispering voices. 2 = Once per day the character is randomly attacked by a strange apparition wielding a longsword which automatically hits and causes 1d8+2 slashing damage. As soon as the character is hit the apparition vanishes into the forest. 3 = In their peripheral vision the character keeps seeing something white and wispy moving. Once per day they are so distracted they follow the wispy object into the woods and could get lost if party members aren’t watching carefully. 4 = Voices are heard in this character’s head, trying to convince them to kill one of their comrades as they sleep. There is a 10% chance per day the character will actually attempt this. 5 = Someone keeps screaming in the night, the character cannot rest or sleep. 6 = The character periodically thinks they are one of the warriors who died many years ago in a great battle. In combat there is a 10% chance per round that the character is confused.
If the characters are loud or boisterous in combat whilst fighting the undead, Nayowayown emerges from her hut and joins the fray, otherwise she won’t likely hear the combat as she hums an old song and stirs her pot of green goop.
Nayowayown is a delusional and extremely paranoid green hag or night hag (depending upon party level). She confronts the party, yelling “You killed my husband, invaded our forest, and destroyed our village; now you will pay!” she uses a wand of paralysis (as a bonus action once per round) and attacks.
1d2+1 rounds after any character enters the hut, the bones of Nayowayown’s enemies begin to shuffle through the caves below and enter the hut via a rickety old ladder.
A DC 18 Charisma (Persuasion) check convinces Naywayown to cease her assault but she cannot stop the undead.
Beneath the Hut
A rickety old ladder made from the gnarled fallen limbs of old trees descends into dark caverns below the hut and forest. This area is detailed in Mini-Dungeon Monthly #6.
Treasure in these Woods?
There is a rumor of great riches hidden somewhere in the forest, possibly the reason the two armies warred. This rumor is partially true in that a large hoard of coins, weapons, and armor are stored away in ancient Grekian vaults, now buried deep beneath the woods. These vaults are haunted by the spirits and undead of the slain. Only one has entered and returned, a thief named Swyl who frequents the Wayward Inn.
Welcome to Aventyr Adventures! A system agnostic series (with some D&D 5e) designed for GMs and players to enjoy the exploration of new lands together. These blog entries are 100% free for you to use along with existing Aventyr Campaign Setting content.
Explore and discover Aventyr, an exciting world where nature struggles to survive under the onslaught of so-called civilization, primal warriors summon powerful totems, and ancient secrets in the sky, sea, and depths of the earth wait to be discovered!
This module is 60 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, elaving us with 57 pages of content, so let’s check this out!
This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.
All right, still here? The PCs, via several different hooks, are coming to the town of Rooknest, a peaceful, isolated town – in which all hell is about to break loose due to an ancient, nefarious plan coming to fruition. More than a decade agao, a wicked hag called Harriot was starting to dread the approach of her final years and her biological clock started ticking its malevolent hum. Being a hag, her only means of reproduction did not fit particularly well with her utterly wicked character and so the weird dreams she had, were quickly heeded: Whispers and dreams spoke of a despicable rite worthy of a hag, including the consumption of the father of the creature to be spawned. True to the formula of fairy-tales, the first two mates were consumed and deemed unfit, granting the hag nevertheless the power to add capabilities of the consumed to the child she conceived from the third father – a child destined to become a hellween, a hybrid werewolf whose very presence is a bane on the land, thinning the boundaries between material and spirit world. What the entity, whose vile whispers spurred the hag onwards didn’t account for is a fraction of maternal instinct, a glimmer of true love between the hag and the wicked werewolf that conceived the child – to give her doomed daughter a chance at a life she could never provide, old Harriot dropped her in the nearby town, sulking back into her swampy domain.
She has been waiting and watching ever since, while the almost forgotten, wicked fertility goddess waited in the wings for her chosen champion to come of full age. When the poor girl turned into a full-blown hellween, she crashed from the temple and fled town, managing not to kill anyone while being guarded by her ghostly father. The curse of her existence and the dark goddesses vile whispers have taken root in Rooknest, though and will keep the PCs rather busy:
The local drunk insists that the “big wolf” is real and while asking him, the PCs will be surprised to see that among the xenophobic, tight-mouthed villagers, some disguised zombies have started drinking in the tavern and gathering outside, making the erupting combat a first glimpse at what’s wrong. The overall module is organized very much like a sandbox of tragedies – from here on, multiple ways are provided for the PCs to conduct their investigation and several stories await their discovery:
There is for example the gravedigger, who, urged by the dark goddesses’ whispers, killed his wife who was unable to bear him children – her ghost now haunts his perpetually gravedigging shovel and laying her to rest may point the PCs towards another component of the puzzle – Harriot has killed the mayor of the town and his family and now shadows the PCs, disguised as him, while the mayor’s revenant is trying to escape his barred mausoleum. Putting said undead to rest and hunting down Harriot is one way to the climax, but just one:
The secretive monks who are researching the transformation of one of their children also know bits and pieces about what is up with the “big wolf”, as does the local smith – if they can get either talking and save the monks from animated suits of armor (which are called skeletons in the text – minor oversight since they use modified skeleton-stats). The local bakery is now haunted by an attic whisperer of a recently-deceased child and throughout the village, the PCs may encounter weird fetishes constructed by an ancient crone, an erstwhile priestess of the wicked goddess that seeks to protect her home.
Via all these small tragedies and encounters, the PCs may pierce together the truth and when they finally slay Harriot, the climax should prove to be interesting: From her blood, a portal to the demiplane-temple of the dark goddess arises and inside, they have the chance to save the sould of the hellween if they soemhow manage to negotiate with her father, not fall to the onslaught of summoned dretches and finally, vanquish the dread exploding-pumpkin-throwing avatar of the goddess that seeks to claim what is “hers”.
The pdf also includes 3 maps and their player-friendly versions.
Editing and formatting, while not bad, are also not perfect – I noticed multiple occasions of jumbled letters, aforementioned minor discrepancy regarding the skeletons etc. Nothing serious, mind you, but enough to slightly detract from the module. Layout adheres to AaW’s 2-column standard and the module comes in 2 versions, one of whihc is backgroundless and printer-friendly. The b/w-artworks are neat, especially the one of the BbEG. The cartography is excellent, as we’ve come to expect by now from AaW. The module comes with herolab-support, though as per the writing of this review, the file has not yet been made available.
This module is interesting in that it’s something we don’t get too often – a sandbox investigation with multiple ways to succeed. It’s also essentially a mix of almost ALL themes associated with horror-adventures – only vampires are missing. Zombies, ghosts, twisted undead, human tragedies, ancient rituals, a curse and an ancient, almost Shub-Niggurath-like entity -all is in here and makes sense. The amount of weirdness going on is one of the good things for the module, since it makes determining what this is all about harder for the PCs and they will actually have to WORK to understand what is going on and use their grey matter. Nice. On the other hand, the themes and respective encounters also make the module feel slightly cluttered with information – the component tragedies are interesting and would have made good investigations in their own right if there was more going on in town, if there were more places to visit and pieces of information to glean. In fact, the one thing I’d consider a flaw of this module is that its final presentation, while good, is not up to its potential. This could be a massively awesome horror-themed megamodule -with about 160 pages, investigations for all component-scenes, each contributing one piece of the big puzzle, this could have been one of the most fitting halloween-modules ever. As provided, it’s a very good sandbox-investigation with some cool scenes that you definitely won’t regret purchasing – especially if you’re willing to do some GM-work and enhance/complicate the component-scenes. Due to the minor glitches and the fact that this would have worked better in a larger scale or as a 2-parter, I’ll settle for a final verdict of 4 stars and a recommendation for GMs looking for some horror-themed bits and pieces to insert in their own modules or willing to expand the per se neat investigation.