This is not one of our 50in50 adventures, no, rather this is a sort of crowd sourced adventure. So if it is crowd sourced then technically I am not saying that there will be this monster at this location, no, you will suggest that monster goes there and this one here and so on. The end result should be an adventure with monsters and villains for which I am entirely not to blame.
Or so the theory goes…
So, the inspiration for this was a quote I heard on the radio today. I wasn’t paying attention so I have no idea of the original context but I thought “That sounds like one of Brian’s adventures”. I googled that title and there is a piece of fan fiction of that name and this has absolutely nothing to do with that but I have linked to it just out of courtesy as Lady of the lake came up with the title before me.
My initial thought was for a originally coastal city or large town that over the years flood defences had crumbled or drainage ditches had become choked so that the surrounding land had returned to a wet march. The city itself is approached by a raised causeway. Part way along the causeway are the remains of a gatehouse. One tower has completely collapsed into the march, the arch over the causeway has also crumbled but one tower remains mostly whole.
I am thinking that the city is inhabited primarily by the incorporeal undead, so no zombies and skeletons but more shadows, wraiths and spectres. These marshes could be home to corpse candles and corpse lanterns. For a lower level party the marshes could be haunted by phantoms, being only 2nd level.
So this is a real gatehouse. If we wipe out one side due to collapse we have six remaining chambers over three levels if the party decide to approach our city along the causeway.
That is not a given of course. There are parties that will stubbornly insist on slogging though the marsh to avoid it, those that will fly over it or longdoor past it.
To address some of these I propose that the last vestige of the gate captain be a Spectre.
There are three levels of Spectre in Creature; Law Minor, Lesser and Major at 5th level, 10th and 15th respectively. These attack using Shockbolts, Lightning Bolts or more so they can control an area hundreds of feet across the road. Yet they are easily within the capabilities of even a low level party to take on.
The rest of the gatehouse guard can be Ghosts which start at just 3rd level (Minor Ghost).
So that is the first set piece encounter, can the party get past the gatehouse?
What about those pesky players that refuse point blank to go anywhere near the obvious adventure site of a gatehouse on a causeway?
I would happily let them trudge their way through the swamp. To make things interesting we can weave a bit of back story into this. Imagine this city was being defended for a reason. I can imagine a city under siege being protected by the heroes in the title when along comes an evil necromancer (That’s a stupid phrases isn’t it? How often we we have good necromancers saving the day?) and brings down the city from within. That explains the undead and why the city was left abandoned. Bound forever to defend the city are the ghostly remains of the heroes. Any party that want to try and approach the city via the marches can face random encounters with ghosts, phantoms and for those at a higher level Revenants and Shadows.
I am sure we could produce a scaling table of random encounters for parties of varying levels. If anyone tries to rest in the swamps then we can toss in an encounter with a Mara.
So what about in the city?
I don’t want to detail that in this post. Have a think about it between now and next Tuesday. I will put forward some ideas. I have an awesome idea for a BBEG at the end of it all but we also need a good reason for the party to need to journey to the city in the first place.
So your mission should you choose to accept it is this:
- Can you add to or embellish what I have suggested so far?
- Why do the party need to enter a city of the undead?
- Do we need more set piece encounters for the opening chapter?
6 thoughts on “City of Forgotten Heroes”
This general outline has given me a great idea and I’m going to openly poach the concepts of this post and here’s how I’m going to do it: 🙂
Within the city, there is a safe haven, the ruins of the temple which is still remarkably well-preserved. There are very few signs of decay and overgrowth. Undead stay 30′ – 40′ away from the temple and the consecrated ground on which it rest. The leaders of the bandit group that has been harassing my level 1 players for the past couple of months are going to be headquartered there.
Safe access to the temple is via an extremely well-hidden passage. Sheer Folly to identify. It is deliberately that difficult as only the highest members of the cadre know how to safely enter the city. Access to the temple via the normal routes are the only other option, but overrun with the incorporeal entities as outlined above. This is more than enough deterrent to keep others from foolishly entering the city.
The passage to the temple isn’t direct. There will still be a need to get from the inner-city entrance to the actual temple. That will require knowledge of hiding spots, safe pathways, stashes of healing potions, and knowledge of weapons/spells/items to deal with undead that may be encountered. These items are stashed and replenished by the higher ups as a matter of course as they may find themselves in need of those very items. Maybe there is honor among thieves?
This is going to tie into my campaign very nicely. For my group, they will need to enter this city if they wish to track down the leaders of the bandits. The party has already burned down the Cabin in the Woods and (mistakenly) believe they have eliminated the meeting place for the bandits and the higher ups.
I may have the ultimate leader be a necromancer. He’ll have easy access to a supply of undead and a safe haven to recuperate or to retreat to should an summoning go awry. That could be the very reason there are so many undead now; spell practice and loot protection.
If you are having items replenished then having an Alchemist in their organisation would make sense. Rather than a necromancer have an evil cleric. That way Alchemist + cleric can create the undead but also produce rune paper with Repel Undead V quickly and easily to give minions safe passage. As long as the minions return their used rune paper to the alchemist then it can keep being recycled. All the spells are low level so only a 3rd level Alchemist would be needed to create the rune paper and embed the spell.
My thought of the day…
Take a look at this free players map. http://bit.ly/2t6hRK2
Imagine that everything to the right of the river is lost to the marches, the river is gone, probably due to silting up and the central point of the bridge is our gate house and we have a viable city map.
A gatehouse is not going to be too much of an impediment going in. But it could well be when trying to leave. Especially if the group have to be carrying the mcguffin that can only use the causeway. Or have a group or three hot on the tail.
I really like the idea of having to use the causeway on the exit. As undead regenerate even if the gatehouse is faced going in as a warm up exercise they will have to face them again on the way out.
I guess the bonus for doing it first is they can potentially destroy or lock the gates open. Or even have them set to close behind them after they leave, forcing any followers to have to deal with the occupants.