Vast Cavern

The ceiling and far walls of this vast cavern recede into darkness. On one side, the wall has collapsed in an enormous mound of rubble – here and there the arms or legs of victims who didn’t survive the fall protrude. The walls and floor of this cavern have the rough texture of natural stone. The distant squeaks of bats echo broadly, suggesting that this area is large and relatively open. Grit and rock dust covers everything and rises in plumes from beneath your feet as you walk. Around you, clumps of stalagmites jut from the ground, like misshapen fingers reaching for the shrouded ceiling above you.

As unappealing a thought as it might be, the only possible recourse of escape must lay within the darkness at the other end of the cavern, because no way out can be seen where you are now.

Yet even within this darkness, a soft, silvery glimmer does not escape your notice – scattered among the rocks and half hidden by dust and debris. Upon closer inspection, you each realize what they are and a pang of sadness runs through your heart. Silver spades the size of a human palm, are scales from the fallen dragon Terendelev.

You reach out to touch the one near your feet, and suddenly a shock of insight strikes your consciousness. These are not merely scales, but they are infused with a sliver of the mighty dragon to whom they once belonged…

Faithful
Your scale is imbued with the power of the sky. Should you wish it, your scale can grant you the powers of levitation, lifted up on the clouds themselves. These same clouds can also shield you from the sight of others, granting you concealment from unfriendly eyes.

Combatant
Your scale possesses the powers of illusion and the ability to be seen as one wishes to be, rather than how one actually is. No doubt such power would be quite useful to deceive the forces of evil.

Mage
Your scale is infused with resistance of the cold and the storm, protecting you against such things like an elemental ward.

Araxiel
Your scale channels its power through your weapons, aligning them with the forces of virtue and righteousness. Whether they be steel or fists or claws, your attacks will be filled with divine purpose.

Before they move on, they need to sort things out with their fellow survivors, as detailed in the previous section, but an investigation of the “giant spider” is likely the first thing on everyone’s mind. Remember that if the PC’s don’t want to leave Anevia or Aravashnial behind, they move at a speed of 15 feet maximum between these encounter areas (1.5 squares on the map).

Around you are several other survivors slowly pulling themselves to their feet. Three, to be exact; a young red haired human woman, a slender elven man and a disheveled human male with greying hair around the temples.

Anevia Tirabade (6/17 HP)

The young woman cries out as she tries to stand, and her leg is bent at a strange angle on the right side. Blood is oozing through her brown leather pants and her pretty face is marred with a pained grimace – small tears brimming in the corners of her eyes.

“Damnit… damnit…. damnit!” She mutters to herself, trying to lift her leg and just causing herself to cry out again for her troubles. She remains quietly where she landed, her bright blue eyes downcast and her long hair forming a veil around her face as she tries not to cry.

With a successful DC 15 Heal check and a few minutes of work, a PC can use splinters of wood and rope from the rubble to fashion a splint for her leg, allowing her to hobble with the aid of an improvised crutch formed from a fallen timber; this automatically makes her attitude friendly.

If she’s completely healed to full hit points; this automatically makes her attitude helpful, her leg mends enough that she can walk without a crutch, yet until she receives a regenerate spell, she won’t be able to move at full speed.

Even if she’s not made helpful, she hobbles along with the PCs as best she can, providing arrow fire support in combat only if she feels the risk of losing one of her arrows is worth the shot.

Aravashnial (2/35 HP)

The elven man doesn’t seem to be doing much better… in fact, he might be much worse. Blood is pouring down his face from a horrible wound across his eyes, and he seems completely unable to see. Despite his terrible injuries, he wastes little time trying to assemble the group to action and he takes to the task as one who is accustomed to leading others would.

“You all, who are you? What are your names? We need to move quickly to work against the demons and I need to know which of you are capable of assisting with that.” He tries to stand, but falls back to his knees – his entire body shaking from pain.

He instructs the most “able” (in his opinion) PCs – strong warrior types – to explore the cavern while the remainder of the group guards the injured, selecting one PC to be his attendant and “eyes.” If she’s made friendly, Anevia volunteers for this role, freeing up the PCs.

DC 20 Sense Motive
This man is clearly used to being in a position of leadership and being so crippled has made him very insecure, hence his desire to be in control. Considering his very serious injuries, you know he needs to hang back, but telling him to back off bluntly will only make him more reluctant to. Perhaps reassuring him by asking his opinion, or by promising to check in with him frequently to take advantage of any expertise he might have will assuage his concerns and keep him safe.

As long as Aravashnial feels he is a contributing member of the group, he supports the PCs’ decisions and encourages Anevia and Horgus to do the same. Otherwise he challenges the PCs’ authority at every turn. While he may not be able to exert much influence over the group, he can make the trip to the surface much more unpleasant.

DC 15 Heal
The injury is charred and has left horrible burns across his face and destroyed his eyes – leaving nothing but blank, bloody sockets behind. It will take a regenerating spell to fully repair this damage and restore his sight.

Horgus Gwerm (17/18 HP)

The nobleman seems to be the best out of the lot, but his brow is furrowed and he is looking at you accusingly – as though you had anything to do with falling into this pit. He seems defensive and on edge, with his cloak wrapped tightly around himself and his eyes somewhat wide from shock.

“Well aren’t you going to do something about this?! Do you know who I am? I can’t die down here like this!”

Although he is the least injured of the group, Horgus certainly makes the most fuss. Every scrape, every inconvenience is a personal affront to him, and his poor attitude makes him grating to be around-as do his frequent insults to the other NPCs-but in reality, Horgus is a well-read scholar and his knowledge of numerous subjects may well come in handy quite soon.

Vast_Cavern.JPG

In the back of the cavern, a disturbing shape looms. Nearly the size of a horse, what appears to be an immense black spider crouches silent and still on the ground.

The spider is a giant black widow, but fortunately for the PCs, the immense vermin is several days dead. There are several giant maggots inside it however feeding off of the rotting flesh which will attack if the PCs get too close or attempt to damage the corpse.

As you approach, a rank stench of rotting flesh and natural decay rises up from the spider’s body even from several yards away, which much to your relief you realize is only a corpse; several days dead from the smell of it.

DC 15 Perception (Secret)
From where the spider lies you here a muffled sound like chewing, and as you look towards the sound, you see a bulge wriggling inside of the spider’s abdomen.

Approach Black Widow (10 ft. Or Less)

As you move forward, there is a sound of tearing flesh and the sickening stench of corrosive bile as several pallid, corpulent maggots the size of human children spew forth from the festering corpse; wriggling on the ground momentarily before they begin to undulate towards you.

DC 11 Knowledge: Nature
These maggots are the larval stage of giant flies. They gorge themselves on the flesh of the dead before they transform into their final stage.

DC 16 Knowledge: Nature
Giant fly maggots live in filth and decomposing corpses and thus are carriers for countless diseases – most commonly filth fever.

DC 21 Knowledge: Nature
They will eat carrion for two weeks before they burrow into the ground and enter the pupil stage. Days later they emerge as full grown flies capable of taking down prey as large as an ox.

Beyond the Black Widow’s corpse is a thick pillar of stone that disappears up into the darkness high above you. Several other such pillars are clustered together to the right of the main one, though they leave an opening of more than twenty feet between them, and gaps of at least ten feet on each of their far sides.

Pressing on beyond them the cavern opens up again briefly before it diverts into two distinct passages barely even five feet across. The cramped rocks press in upon these tunnels and looks wholly uninviting, but it seems to be the end of the large cavern and the only way to move forward. Due to how the passages bend, it is impossible to see what lies beyond them save for investigating.

One is on your right, and one is on your left, yet both appear to continue forward. Which path will you choose?

Be sure to have the NPC’s chime in with opinions here, especially Horgus. Remember that he is very critical and also bossy, even if he has no idea what he’s talking about.

Vast Cavern

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