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Saturday, December 11, 2021

Dungeons & Dragons - The Witchlight Carnival Dice and Miscellany Set

 


You can buy this dice set right here.

You can buy The Wild Beyond the Witchlight right here

Today we're going to take a look at the new dice set, which is linked to the Feywild-themed adventure The Wild Beyond the Witchlight. 

I decided to look at the other dice sets real quick as a comparison and poked around online to see which sets are liked the best. Two things stuck out to me:

  1. The Descent Into Avernus set is actually somewhat hard to find, now (It's going for around $50 on ebay currently). Looking back, I'd say it's definitely the coolest set they've put out so far.
  2. Laeral Silverhand's Explorer Kit dice set is $14.99 on amazon! The thing I like most about that set is that the d20's are larger. I sort of feel like I should poke around and see what D&D products are dirt cheap right now on Amazon.

So! Here's what you get in this set:

  • Box with felt interior
  • Orange and blue dice, complete set plus 1 additional d20 and 3 additional d6's.
  • Small poster map of the carnival (carnival art on the flip side). Is slightly larger than a normal Dunder-Mifflin-sized piece of paper.
  • 20 Cards, most of which detail NPCs from the adventure or carnival games.

The retail price on this is $29.99. My first instinct is that these things are just too expensive, especially when you can get a set of dice in the $20 Essentials Kit or the Starter Set. 

Here's another thing to ponder. Part of the appeal of these dice sets, to me, is that if I'm running the adventure live and in person with my group, I can bust this out and make things real "official." I can show the group that we are doing this thing all the way.

But how many people are playing online, whether on roll20 or zoom? They're not even going to see it, right? 

The Dice Set

The Box: The actual box is great. It is a little odd that the bottom part has a black design while the top has a bright orange foil design. The felt interior is really nice. You can soothe your troubled spirit by slowly running your finger across the softness, even if just for a moment.

The Dice: In general, I don't like glossy dice because they roll forever. I know you can roll them in the box, but it still feels wrong to me. I still haven't recovered from all those kids rolling their dice right off the table when I ran games at the game store.

These dice are glossy, but not as much as sets in years past. For example, the red dice in the Essentials Kit are so slippery. I'd never touch them, I swear it. They are the sloppiest wandering dice I've ever encountered. In comparison, these are better.

I do wish they'd have made the d20's larger than the other dice though. Bigger d20's with some heft are easier to roll, and everyone at the table can clearly see what the result is.

The Poster Map

by Stacey Allen and Will Doyle
We get a map of the carnival. Looks good, seems useful. In fact, if I was running this, I'd probably want each player to have one of these. The actual adventure actually comes with a HUGE version of this same map, so you could slap the huge one on the table for the group to use (and hopefully not spill drinks on) while you can use this smaller one for your own personal reference behind the DM screen.

In the book's poster map, the other side has a map of the domain of Prismeer. In this dice set, the other side has art- a scene from the carnival. I'm a little torn on whether I'd prefer the Prismeer map here. On the one hand, the group could use the Prismeer map. But! Overland travel isn't a constant.. you could go sessions without referring to the Prismeer map, and when you do use it, it would likely only be for 10 minutes.

The art really goes a long way in helping the group imagine what it's actually like to be at the carnival. It looks cool and I love the style. This could go quite a long way when it comes to immersion.

The Cards

Let's take a look at these.

Game Cards: 6 of the cards feature different games at the carnival. One side has art, the other side has the game - brief explanations of the game and how to win. I really appreciate the brevity, makes it very easy to understand and run. 

You could hand the card to a player partaking in the game. The one thing that gave me pause is that the DC is right there on the card. Gave me flashbacks to a certain dude in high school who would almost certainly do the old "roll, declare the result, and then scoop up the die before anyone could verify the result" maneuver. But then, if you have a player in your group who does this kind of thing, you have a whole other set of problems to worry about, anyway.

NPC Cards: These 12 cards make up the bulk of the set. The cards don't have stats, they contain descriptions of each individual. These seem like good props to hand to the group as they encounter the various creatures.

The one that sticks out the most is the displacer beast named Dirlagraun. Looks really cool, has a plot hook (missing kitten), I like it a lot (I also wrote a guide to displacer beasts a while back). 

Carnival Prizes: One single card lists trinkets on one side, and the rules of the carnival on the other.

  • Favorite Trinket: "Flask of glowworms that change color to reflect the mood of the flask's holder."
  • Favorite Carnival Prize: "Bottle of Witchlight Wine. The bottle plays calliope music whenever it's uncorked and there is liquid inside."

Survey: The last card invited us to take a survey to let them know what we think of the dice set.

Overall

I like this set. I guess it's not necessary to own, but if you're going to run The Wild Beyond the Witchlight or if you want a cool dice set for your games, this is a no-brainer.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Dungeons & Dragons - Dungeon Master's Screen Dungeon Kit


You can buy this screen right here.

Last year, I reviewed the Dungeon Master's Screen Wilderness Kit. This year, they've put out a new on, centered on dungeons. I really liked the Wilderness kit, so let's see what we've got this time around.


 So we've got:

  • A 4 paneled DM Screen. Very sturdy.
  • A folder, still a bit flimsy.
  • A laminated "Actions in Combat" card, always handy. On the other side is a blank grid map, scaled for minis.
  • Sheets of cards to be punched out.
  • A box to hold the cards.

The Screen

I think this is the same artist from last year, with the art that looks pretty real yet grainy at the same time. The blue dragon looks pretty great.

Also, a nitpick. The screen depicts areas that look more like caves than a dungeon. When I hear "dungeon" I think of a crafted area with square tunnels and hewed stone like the Tomb of Horrors. I know, I know, super-nitpick.

Charts: On the interior, we have a lot of the same stuff as last year. Most of it is pretty essential, in my opinion. Some of it includes:

  • Setting a DC
  • Damage by Level
  • Object Armor Class/Hit points
  • Concentration rules!
  • Exhaustion (100% essential)

We get a hilarious "Improvising Damage" chart. What does 24d10 damage, you might ask? The answer:

"Tumbling into a vortex of fire on the Elemental Plane of Fire, being crushed in the jaws of a godlike creature or a moon-sized monster.

Conditions: A huge chunk of the screen is devoted to conditions (charmed, incapacitated, etc.). Considering that this set comes with reference cards detailing each condition, this seems unnecessary.

We also get some dungeon-specific stuff that seems broadly useful.

Cards: I really enjoy turning these perforated sheets into a box and cards. The boxes hold up really well. We have four different types of cards:

Condition Cards: These are really handy. I can never remember all the little details. Handling what a blinded character can and can't do is always tricky to me.

Molds and Slimes: I have such a hard time finding these when I need them! And here they are. With art! What a great idea. There are three: Yellow Mold, green slime, and brown mold.  

Initiative Cards: Hand these to players so they know who goes when. I personally wouldn't use these, as I have a tried and true method for swiftly tracking initiative (I will never forget, as a kid, where we're all sitting there for what seems like 10 minutes until my friend finally realized it was his turn).

Geomorphs: That's right. We have DUNGEON GEOMORPHS. What's a geomorph, you ask? Why, it's a slice of a dungeon that can be mixed and matched with other dungeons. We get a TON of these.

"Geomorph" is one of the most fun words to say out loud, right up there with "apoplectic" and "ichor" (but only if you pronounce it "EYE core").

I hate to say this, but I have a concern here. I feel like we need these maps in pdf form, too. Because I feel really weird making a dungeon with these and physically writing room numbers on them. They're my only copy! I'm going to ruin them, and might not even be able to show them to players.

I tried looking around the internet to see if these are available in a larger .png form, can't find them. But I did find the mapmaker, Dyson Logos, who apparently has made FREE GEOMORPHS that you can download right here.

You know, you could also use these to make a version of the Chris Perkins tesseract dungeon from Bzallin's Blacksphere

Overall

I like this product. It definitely leans on the geomorphs a lot. The screen is great, though. 

The price is $24.99. It is very weird to me that this costs more than the Starter Set or the Essentials Kit. Maybe those are "loss leaders". Although, amazon does cut the price. This product goes for $19.80 right now.

Wait a sec. The Starter Set right now, brand new, can be bought for $6.77 on amazon! Holy crap. That's like... I'll buy one just to have it, even though I already own one. That's the price of  a deodorant two-pack!

Let's check the price of the Essentials Kit. It's... $15.49. Good price, but not crazy like the Starter Set. 

So.. wow. Heck, buy someone the Starter Set and this screen for Christmas! Damn! 

Thanks for Reading!

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos Review

 

by Magali Villeneuve
 

You can buy Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos here.

You can get a digital version of this book on D&D Beyond.

Today we're going to go through Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos, another D&D book that converts Magic the Gathering lore to D&D. They call this a sourcebook, but the majority of this book contains a huge adventure that takes place over the course of 4 years.

I've never been very into Magic (although its popularity nearly killed my D&D group way back when), so I went into this one pretty much blind.

Review: Before we go through Strixhaven and pull out fun stuff to look at, let me just tell you what I think about this book: I love it. I love this more than Tyranny of Dragons. I love this more than the Waterdeep books. This is right up there with the best published 5e adventures.

Now, there is one huge catch to this. Whether or not your group will like this depends entirely on your play style. This is not a typical D&D adventure. 

I am guessing that most RPG fans had the same reaction when they read or saw Harry Potter for the first time: "That would make for an awesome D&D campaign." Right? 

That's more or less what this is. A massive adventure that takes place over 4 years, taking the group (students) all the way through their time at Strixhaven University. If your group is up for this, then definitely buy this book.

One more catch: All of the heroes should have at least some spellcasting ability, as that is the focus of the school. There's plenty of leeway, but your players should probably focus on making wizards, warlocks, bards, druids, clerics, and sorcerers.

The Art: A lot of the art in this book comes off as flat or weird to me. There were a few times times when I flipped through the monster section that I thought, "What am I even looking at?" Some of the creatures are very bizarre.

In the past, I've complained about the art being clipped or partially obscured. Often, when you see the full image online, the version in the book doesn't do it justice in comparison. That effect is lessened in this book. The one thing I did note is that the colors still come off a bit flat in the book, but not as bad as in the past.

I have placed my favorite pieces of art from the book in this review. Apparently I am a big Piotr Dura fan.

Now let's go through the book! There's a lot of fun things I'd like to tell you about, so you can decide if you want to buy this product.

Welcome to Strixhaven

by Piotr Dura

Studying at Strixhaven: This explanation appears on page 5:

"Study at Strixhaven isn't about learning to be a wizard, but about learning to be a historian, an artist, an orator, a scientist, or some other profession - while using one's magic to enhance one's studies."

Anyone with any kind of magical abilities can study at Strixhaven. An example given is a barbarian who follows the Path of the Ancestral Guardian from Xanathar's Guide to Everything.

Placing Strixhaven: As I read through this book, I was thinking about how I'd convert it to my campaign. Strixhaven is on a world called Arcavios, which formed when two planets smashed together. The book also mentions that you can place Strixhaven wherever it fits your campaign. 

My first thought is that it belongs in Sigil, as there's already creatures of all types living together in that city. But then, that might take away from the specialness of the University.

Strixhaven is broken into five colleges, each linked to one of the dragons that founded it:

  • Lorehold: College of Archaeomancy (History)
  • Prismari: College of Elemental Arts  (Art & Magic)
  • Quandrix: College of Numeromancy (Math)
  • Silverquill: College of Eloquence (Poetry/Writing/Oration)
  • Witherbloom: College of Essence Studies (Life & Death)

Students: Creatures from "all over the multiverse" attend Strixhaven. Examples include a pixie, a dryad, a giant, a treant, a genasi, and more. I would have a lot of fun cooking up student NPCs.

Snarl: An area where spells can be amplified or distorted. There is a snarl in the campus library.

Star Arches: Floating arches made from spokes of natural materials, and are said to spring forth when a great mage is a born, or where a lost spell resides.

There's more on the Oracle, archaics, and the Founder Dragons, but I don't want to spoil too much. I will say that the archaics in particular are really cool.

Chapter 1: Life at Strixhaven

by Manuel Castanon

We get details on the various locations in Strixhaven, going from one college to the next. We also get info on the main members of the faculty. 

There is a poster map in the back of the book that depicts the entire campus. 

Detention Bog: All of the D&D versions of school tropes in this book make me laugh. They are awesome. When Witherbloom students misbehave, they are sent to DETENTION BOG, a foul swamp that is "...also an excellent place to gather herbs for certain cures and curses."

Chapter 2: Character Options

Owlin: The owlin is a new race - humanoid owls. They are "...distant kin of giant owls from the Feywild." Owlins can fly, right from level one. I always get worried about low-level characters being able to fly, and whether it will ruin an adventure, but for the most part, it never does. Mostly because only that one character can fly. 

Backgrounds: There are new backgrounds for students of each college. They give you access to certain spells, and have their own personality traits and trinkets. 

Spells: We get a few new spells (all of which are 1st to 2nd-level), each linked to one of the schools. The spell that sticks out to me the most is kinetic jaunt, which only takes 1 bonus action to cast and gives you:

  • +10 feet to walking speed.
  • You don't provoke opportunity attacks.
  • You can move through the space of another creature.

Concentration, lasts up to one minute.

There are also about 10 new magic items, 5 of them being primers linked to each of the colleges. These primers give you +1d4 to skill checks 3 times per day, and, when studied at the end of a long rest, you can pick one spell from the bard or sorcerer spell list and, sometime before our next long rest, cast it without expending a spell slot.

Chapter 3: School is in Session

Now we get to the bulk of the book - the adventure! This will take the group from level 1 to level 10. I am dying to see how they are going to handle certain things. The first thing I notice is:

Relationship Points: The players should choose at least one NPC to be either a Friend, a Beloved (!), or a Rival. Seriously.. I am fighting the urge to cook up a huge list of goofy NPC students for the group to pick from. This sounds like so much fun. 

There is a Strixhaven Tracking sheet, which I have posted above. It will allow you to track relationships, extracurriculars, your JOB, and yes, how did on your report cards. I am dying of laughter, what a great idea. Can you cheat on your test? Can you have someone else do your book report? Do you have to roll to see how you did on an oral report? Do you have some kind of science fair where you make a mini-erupting volcano?

Extracurriculars: OK I'm just blown away. I don't want to just go page-by-page here because this review will never end, but this is so tremendous. Doing extracurricular activities gives you rewards - either a student die (which gives you +1d4 to a d20 roll under certain conditions) or a relationship point, which allows the character to boost or diminish their relationship with an NPC.

Some of the extracurricular activities include:

  • Dragonchess Club!
  • Fantastical Horticulture Club
  • Live-Action Roleplaying Guild
  • Mage Tower Cheer Squad 

Jobs: Jobs pay 5 gp per week (I think the average wage in D&D is 2 gp per week), and they gain a relationship point with a co-worker. We get a list of job options, including working at the Firejolt Cafe or the Biblioplex (library).

Exams: We really do get rules for exams. And yes, there are rules for cheating! 

Relationships: This section seems important in a broader sense, as out of everything so far, this system seems like it could be used in almost any campaign involving recurring NPCs.

Relationships Points start at 0 with a given NPC. They increase or decrease by 1 each time a character interacts with them. 

  • When you have 2+ points with an NPC, you gain a Bond Boon
  • When you have -2 (or lower) points with an NPC, you receive a Bond Bane.

Bond Boons and Banes are specific to each NPC. We are given details on 10-15 students, and listed on each are specific boons and banes. 

So, for example, if you gain a Bond Boon with the Chaotic Good Gnome on page 57, you get: "Whenever you travel any significant distance, you can reach your destination in half the normal time."

If you end up with a Bond Bane with her, you get: "Whenever you participate in sports on campus, fouls are constantly called on you." (The NPC in question is a referee on the Intramural fields).

Campus Kerfuffle

by Piotr Dura

This is the first of the four adventures.

Is there a summary of the adventure? Yep. I'd prefer if it was more specific, but we do get a broad idea of what this is about. Again, I don't want to spoil too much. 

The heroes will get involved in an orientation scavenger hunt, and later on, a frog race. Their first examination is on a topic dear to my heart: The Slaadi. There are also exams on owlbears and otyughs.

There is a scenario where the group might do improv on stage in front of the student body, which is funny to me, because usually in D&D if the group gets involved in an in-game play, they don't stick to the script, so I find this to be really fun. The group is expected to do wacky things and for chaos to ensue. 

Exploring Rooms: The one "concern" I have with this adventure is that there are a number of "dungeon" type areas - the group must explore a place room-by-room, each of which has some kind of encounter (often a monster). 

I don't know. For me, as time rolls on, I just don't want to do those any more. At least, not a place with 22 rooms. Just a few rooms is fine. In real life, it becomes a drag because a group can spend 4 hours on just a couple of rooms, meaning that this locale might eat up weeks of game time. It becomes a bit of a slog. 

As I read this, I prefer this adventure to be full of unique scenarios, like the exams. All the "D&D School" stuff is gold. That said, I'm sure plenty of people are expecting this adventure to have dungeon-type locales to explore, so hey it's easy for people like me to trim it out. 

Chapter 4: Hunt for the Mage Tower

It is time for year 2 at Strixhaven! Our heroes are sophomores and should be 4th level.

This chapter revolves partially around a game called Mage Tower, where two teams face off in the stadium and attempt to steal the other team's 'mascot' (mascots are small creatures of various types described in the last chapter).

The heroes might take a test on a glyph of warding. This just cracks me up. I really like this adventure a lot. 

As the year progresses, the group will get into various hijinks (in addition to being stalked by mysterious entities), leading up to the big Mage Tower Game (The "Battle of Strixhaven"). We actually get a Mike Schley map for the stadium. I was expecting piles and piles of rules for the game, but to my relief it's in one single column. 

Although.. I notice that some rules are on page 99, while others are on page 122. Seems like they should have squeezed it all onto a single page. 

Still, it looks like a lot of fun. 

Chapter 5: The Magister's Masquerade

by Piotr Dura

Things get a bit more serious in year 3, where a magic item linked to the main villain is uncovered and might begin to harm the students.

The group may end up involved in the planning and execution of a Masquerade Ball. I still maintain that there is a universal truth in D&D: All players love in-game parties.

We also get something I have never seen in D&D: A fashion show. Sitting back and thinking about it, I'm totally baffled as to how you run this in D&D. Members of the group might be designers, or model (the idea of rolling to see how well you walk in a fashion show is so hilariously awesome to me) 

One thing that jumps out is that a character who is a fashion designer will need to choose someone to model for them. Which NPC? Their Beloved? Does a Rival weasel their way into it just to ruin it? So many possibilities. 

Later, there is a section on taking dance lessons. We actually get a chart of "Dance Partner Quirks" which includes:

  • Treats a dance like a competitive, full-contact sport.
  • Is fantastically clumsy or gets dizzy easily.
  • Tries to mask their discomfort by complaining about how stupid all this is.

This chapter culminates with the Masquerade Ball and the chaos that the mysterious item has created.

Chapter 6: A Reckoning in Ruins

by Jinho Bae

The faculty has become aware that the villain is on campus and the group, now seniors, are expected to help protect the other students.

This might be one of my favorite things in the book: The group are tasked with being detention monitors for a day. What do you go to detention for in Strixhaven? Things like:

  • Accidentally sending another student to an extra-dimensional space.
  • Summoning a storm in the dining hall. 
  • My favorite: "Reprogrammed a janitorial golem to clean his dorm, with disastrous results."

This chapter mostly involves a pair of dungeon crawls, culminating in the heroes attempting to stop the villain from completing a ritual that will likely kill most of the people at Strixhaven University.

Chapter 7: Friends and Foes

by Chris Cold

Monsters and NPCs! Let's take a look at some that stick out to me.

Archaic: Mysterious giant entities that possess great knowledge, complete with a cool secret origin. It has a reaction that allows it to cast a spell that someone else has just cast. It even has a "reverse gravity" type of power.

Mascots: Mascots are pretty prominent in this adventure. Let's look at them real quick:

  • Art Elemental Mascot: (Prismari College) A small elemental with an outer shell of swirling colors.
  • Fractal Mascot: (Quandrix College) A small construct made of "facets of hard light." 
  • Inkling Mascot: (Silverquill College) These tiny oozes are living blobs of ink. 
  • Pest Mascot: (Witherbloom College) Ferret-sized hairless caterpillars that contain 'fuel' that powers Witherbloom magic.
  • Spirit Statue Mascot: (Lorehold) Students bind spirits of the dead into statues, to talk with and learn from them. These spirit statues can walk around, and act as mentors to certain students.

The Founder Dragons: These dragons aren't typical D&D dragons, like a red dragon or a gold dragon. These are unique entities - dragons linked to a certain spellcasting class.

  • Beledros Witherbloom: (Druid) She's interesting because she looks so evil, but she's essentially a draconic druid who focuses on life and death. Her breath weapon is of "decaying energy".
  • Galazeth Prismari: (Sorcerer) A sorcerer, this dragon "embodies the flow of magic from inspiration into artistic expression." Breath weapon: Dancing elements of fire and ice.
  • Shadrix Silverquill: (Bard) A master of light and shadow. Breath Weapon: Illuminating shadow breath that can blind.
  • Tanazir Quandrix: (Wizard) Can alter physical properties and manipulate the flow of thought. Breath weapon: Diminution breath! It doesn't actually shrink you, just weakens.
  • Velomachus Lorehold: (Wizard) Mastered the magic of order and chaos. Breath weapon: Battle Tide Breath, thunderous sound that pushes. 

Daemogoth: Huge fiends with five arms, very cool-looking. They feed on misery and "are creatures of forbidden knowledge." This is one where the translation from Magic: The Gathering to D&D is very apparent in the stat block. I like it, but that "Pact of Pain" power has one long description. 

Daemogoth Titan: These are gargantuan creatures that blight the land around them. These things are really cool.

First-Year Student: I love little stat blocks like this. It has two amusing powers:

  • Excited to Be Here. The student has advantage on initiative rolls.
  • Beginner's Luck (2/Day). When the student fails a saving throw, it can reroll the d20. It must use the new roll.

Final Thoughts

As I said up top, I really like this adventure a lot. One thing that I would change, though, is the villain. I feel weird spoiling what the main villain of this scenario is, but I can say that to me, it's a bit too cartoonish-looking. It's a low level monster that I just don't think I could portray as threatening. I honestly imagine a group actually laughing when they see what it is. 

I would probably change the bad guy so that it was a daemogoth that wants to become a daemogoth titan. I'd probably have to make up some BS story about it being a former student who somehow became a daemogoth - or perhaps it just was a daemogoth who tried to behave itself as part of the student body and failed miserably.

Minor gripes aside, this book shocked me with it's greatness. I definitely understand that this isn't an adventure that every group will like, but if your group is up for playing a Harry Potter-type campaign, definitely consider running it.

Updates

I added lore from this book to a few of my other guides:

Guide to the Slaad

The Great List of Food and Drinks


Saturday, December 4, 2021

Fizban's Treasury of Dragons Review

 

Cover by Chris Rahn

You can buy Fizban's Treasury of Dragons here.

Buy the digital version on D&D Beyond here

Buy the Alternate Cover here.

Fizban's Mini-Planner 2022

Today we're going to check out Fizban's Treasury of Dragons, a dragon-centric D&D 5e supplement.

This book is not hard to review. It contains about 30 pages of stuff for players - a few subclasses, a few new racial types, a few new spells. The rest is all material for DMs.

By far, my favorite chapter is the last one, which details new monsters, all of which are dragon-related. There's such a great variety, and a lot of cool ideas. 

The fifth chapter, which is full of dragon lairs, is incredibly handy. Any time your group wants to go meet with, steal from, or kill a dragon, you've got a mountain of material at your disposal. Each section is just a few pages long but has pretty much everything you need. Then you just grab some monster from the back to flesh the lair out. Piece of cake!

The thing I really like about the lairs is that the magic influences the surrounding area, and can go a long way in helping you make a unique village or town. There's a lot of fun to be had and it doesn't seem like it would take too much effort to bring it to life.

The Art: I'm a big D&D art enthusiast. I'd say the art in here is a mixed bag. There seems to be a real problem with making cool-looking humanoids in the 5e books. I don't know why, but a lot of the NPC art just looks too vague or... off somehow. There are a number of large pieces that I feel just don't cut it - they're too "muddy." Not enough detail, and the style just doesn't work.

That said, there's plenty of awesome pieces. I was able to place my absolute favorites in this review. 

Quick Verdict: Is this book worth buying? Yes! Is it mandatory? I'd say... yes! I think that Fizban's is necessary if you are going to try to use a dragon in your campaign. I mean, the game is called Dungeons & Dragons. You should probably have your group deal with a dragon at least once in any campaign, probably more than once.

Handling the D&D Multiverse: One concept in this book is the idea that D&D is embracing a bit of a Marvel-style multiverse. In previous editions, D&D worlds all existed in the Material Plane, and you could get to one or another by flying on a magically-powered ship known as a Spelljammer. So.. you could fly from Toril (the Forgotten Realms setting) to Oerth (the Greyhawk Setting). The Spelljammer products even gave you exact routes to take to do so.

As far as I can tell, all of that still exists. But there is a new wrinkle - certain beings exist on more than one world, as if there was an 'alternate universe' version of themselves. This idea goes a long way in explaining how the Forgotten Realms has slightly different versions of certain entities and NPCs. It also is handy when it comes to handling Takhisis from Dragonlance, who is very similar to Tiamat. 

I would guess this is partly a way to handle the continuity issues of streaming shows, as well as Critical Role doing things with major NPCs that conflict with the 'official story' of D&D (if there is such a thing).

This brings up an interesting question. Sigil is the city at the center of the multiverse. There is just one Sigil, right? Does that mean you might run into alternate universe versions of the same NPC? This book specifically has dragons (who are not gods) that have "echoes" of themselves living on multiple prime worlds. So in theory, you could go to Sigil and bump into three echoes of the same dragon.

Do "echoes" of your characters exist? Is there an Eberron version of your adventuring party? A Greyhawk version?

I've always said that my campaign world is an alternate universe. I consider the "prime" universe to be whatever the D&D makers are running. So.. Gary Gygax's Castle Greyhawk campaign. Monte Cook's Praemal campaign. The Chris Perkins Iomandra campaign. The Acquisitions Inc games.

Calling my own game an alternate universe gives me leeway. My brother ran Drizz't as a character a long time ago. He died in prison. So.. Drizz't isn't running around in my setting. But, that's OK, because he's an alternate universe Drizz't. The 'real' Drizz't is doing whatever R.A. Salvatore writes down. 

Let's get into the book. I'm going to go through and talk about anything notable, as well as try to give you a sense of what is in this book without spoiling too much, so you can decide if you want to buy it.

Elegy for the First World

Tiamat by Chris Rahn
 

Bahamut and Tiamat worked together to create the Material Plane in the form of a First World. 

Sardior: The "first-born of dragonkind." Bahamut and Tiamat created Sardior together, who was apparently a ruby-red dragon. "Sardior then joined with Bahamut to create the metallic dragons and with Tiamat to craft the chromatic dragons."

Sardior may have been destroyed and shattered along with the First World. This obviously would make for a very cool campaign - finding and exploring the First World.

Dragonsight: Some dragons (often gem dragons) can sense their other incarnations that exist on different worlds of the Material Plane. This allows dragons to amass knowledge that spans the Material Plane. 

This sort of suggests that the Material Plane is more of a multiverse, right? In 2nd edition, all worlds, even Dark Sun, were in the same universe, each contained in their own crystal sphere. Changing it to having each setting existing in its own sliver of the Material Plane does make sense to a degree, as each has a cosmology that somewhat contradicts the others. Eberron has its own planes. The Forgotten Realms has its own versions of certain NPCs.

Chapter 1: Character Creation

by Olivier Bernard

We get rules for making chromatic dragonborn, gem dragonborn and metallic dragonborn. Very cool, very brief, which I greatly appreciate. 

I really like how the gem dragonborn can communicate with telepathy. 

Then we get subclasses.

Monk: Way of the Ascendant Dragon: "The dragon god Bahamut is known to travel the Material Plane in the guise of a young monk, and legend says that he founded the first monastery of the Wat of the Ascendant Dragon in this guise."

My favorite origin: "After a dream featuring a five-handed dragonborn, you awoke with the mystical breath of dragons." A five-handed dragonborn?? At first I thought it said five-headed and imagined a cool dragonborn villain linked to Tiamat. 

These characters get a breath weapon at 3rd level and can sprout wings for short periods of time at 6th level. 

Ranger: DrakeWarden: This ranger has a 'draconic spirit' sidekick that evolves as the ranger levels up. It can eventually become a mount, gains a breath weapon, and when you hit 15th level it becomes Large.

Chapter 2: Dragon Magic

by Tyler Jacobson

We get a few new spells! Very cool.  am guessing some of these are converted from older editions. I know there were some Forgotten Realms dragons that had unique spells.  My favorite:

Nathair's Mischief: "You fill a 20-foot cube you can see within range with fey and draconic magic." It's sort of like a wild magic surge... and I love random tables. Those in the cube might be charmed, blinded, laughing or effectively slowed.

We also get magic items. Check it out:

Gold Canary Figurine of Wondrous Power: I believe these were used int he final adventure of the Scales of War adventure Path. In that path, these were actually Bahamut's advisors, all gold dragons. In this book, these figurines become giant canaries. But, if you have half your hit points or less, you can opt to turn them into gold dragons. 

Potion of Dragon's Majesty: "When you drink this potion, you transform into an adult dragon.." lasts one hour!

We also get "Hoard Magic Items." What's a hoard magic item? They are special items that have absorbed ambient magic of a dragon's hoard. Each has 4 states:

  • Slumbering:
  • Stirring (found in a young dragon's hoard)
  • Wakened (found in an adult dragon's hoard)
  • Ascendant (found in an ancient dragon's hoard)

The item must have been in the hoard for at least 1 year to gain this property. It's kind of funny, your character could sneak in, stash an item, then come back a year later and steal it back. You must remain attuned to the item, however.

If the dragon is slain: The item goes up one state if left in the hoard for another 8 hours. 

The item also gains a quirk, most of which are beneficial (glows when within 60 feet of a dragon, gives advantage on History checks, etc).

We get a few hoard items. My favorite is the Dragon Vessel - a container which can magically fill with a potion once per day. The type of potion is determined by the state of the item. It also can be filled with different types of alcohol, including mead, wine, or whiskey.

Draconic Gifts: "The death of a dragon can result in its power taking root in a character, whether that person is the dragon's chosen heir or the dragon's killer." 

You gain an ability! This is a great idea. You might become a dragonborn, gain blindsight, or gain the ability to use telekinesis once per day. 

Chapter 3: Dragons in Play

Tiamat by Tyler Jacobson

We are given tons of info on fleshing out a dragon, including bonds/flaws, a name generator, and customization. There's an idea here about red dragons actually being healed by fire damage, which I really like a lot. 

There's a section on what dragons are doing at each stage of their life. I got a lot of inspiration from these. For example, a young dragon has a goal of establishing a liar and amassing as much treasure as possible. It is entirely possible that your group is loaded up with magic items, right? And they might have a cool base, or they just cleared out a dungeon that would make for a cool dragon lair. 

Suddenly, they young dragon is hunting the heroes to steal their items for its hoard, and bringing them to its dungeon lair.

We are also given ways that dragons reproduce. My favorite: "By eating a significant portion of their own hoards, dragons cause themselves to lay clutches of eggs."

There's another one about dragon eggs growing on a tree in the heart of the world. Dragons seek it out and must persuade the guardian to relinquish an egg. Tremendous!

Dragon Organizations: We are given details on the Cult of the Dragon (from Tyranny of Dragons), The Chamber (from Eberron) and more. The "Hidecarved Dragons" are clumps of 3-5 dragons who are devoted to a common goal. They carve arcane sigils on their hides that give them special defenses, such as magic resistance or immunity to being polymorphed.

Dragon Campaign: Amidst the notes on using dragons in a campaign, there's some stuff on the Rod of Seven Parts:

"When an artifact called the Rod of Law was shattered into seven parts during the Battle of Pesh, seven ancient metallic dragons were assigned to be the guardians of its fragments. Even sundered, this mighty artifact was so powerful that great cities sprang up near the dragon lairs, forming the centers of civilization. The dragons are patrons of the seven cities, and their roles as guardians are all but forgotten."

Wow. So that's the deal in 5e! Which cities, I wonder. Each piece is in a dragon's hoard? I assume these dragons would have to be lawful...? Gold dragons, black dragons. I hope they make a big 5e Rod of Seven Parts adventure one day.

Chapter 4: Lairs and Hoards

by David Auden Nash

We get guidelines on how big a dragon's hoard would be. An adult dragpn has a hoard worth around 15,000 gp. They might have more than one hoard (up to 8!) . The hoard of an ancient dragon is worth 200,000 gp. Fun fact: If a dragon's lair no longer holds 10,000 gp, the site is no longer considered a lair.

"By gaining access to a hoard and making off with a significant portion of that wealth, characters can diminish the dragon's connection to both that lair and its associated territory."

Hoard Generator: We get a pile of charts to help us make a dragon hoard. I love random tables. Let's roll and make an adult dragon hoard!

  • 4,600 cp
  • 15,000 sp
  • 26,000 gp
  • 3,300 pp 

7 Mundane Items

  • Large wind chime.
  • 2 paintings by an artist long forgotten.
  • Small shrine devoted to a god worshiped by the dragon's minions.
  • A cask containing 65 gallons of drinking water.
  • An hourglass filled with sparkling sand.
  • A jar containing a dead illithid tadpole.

25 gems worth 13,480 gp

13 art objects worth 2,175 gp

5 Magic Items

  • Potion of Supreme Healing
  • Potion of Longevity
  • Spell Scroll (7th level - Let's go with Plane Shift)
  • Ammunition +3
  • Sun Blade

Chapter 5: Draconomicon

by Julian Kok

This is a huge section of the book, looks like it's about 80 pages long. It contains detailed lairs for dragons of all types.

We get 3-4 pages of details on each lair. most, but not all, get maps. I still don't understand why they are making print-friendly maps instead of full color stuff, but the maps are fine. 

My first reaction to these was that I was disappointed that they were general. There's no room-by-room description, just options for what would be in there. Again, it's more of a toolkit to create a lair than a specific, fully-fleshed out lair.

But, upon reading through these entries, they give you everything you need. It definitely makes you want to run a "dragon hunter" campaign.

Once I got to the faerie dragon section, I paused. What the heck would a faerie dragon lair be like? I've never even thought about it. I guess I just assumed they flew through the forest and slept on tree branches or something.

The answer: Their lairs are often near portals to the Feywild. They live in nests in crevices, in ancient trees, attics, that kind of thing. 

Let's look at the lair of my favorite type - Gold dragons. I don't really know why they're my favorite. I like to try to figure out ways to use a good-aligned dragon in D&D. I'm going to pull out my favorite ideas from each section and make my own gold dragon lair.

Gold dragon lair map piece by Dyson Logos

Personality Traits: "Disguises allow me to bestow small kindnesses and experience the simple pleasures of companionship without constantly being petitioned. I'm proud of my acting ability and never break character."

I can see how some people might get tired of the "I'm actually a dragon in humanoid form" trope, but it never gets old to me. It can be hard to hide, though. There's something about the wise, mysterious NPC who gives a knowing wink that clues players in that this person is a dragon in disguise. It's still fun, though.

Ideals: "Objectivity. I remain impartial in my judgments and refuse to let personal feelings get in the way of what's fair or necessary."

These are hard to choose from, as each one is fairly vague.

Spellcasting Options: A young gold dragon has a DC of 17 and can cast: Bless, cure wounds, slow, suggestion, and zone of truth.

So my gold dragon probably uses the disguise of a healer, or a cleric.

Adventure Hooks: "A gold dragon has been attacking travelers in an effort to drive them away from the dragon's territory, which holds a deadly artifact at its center."

I think I would change this so that the dragon is using some cover story or something to keep people away from its lair. I love the idea that the dragon kills evil creatures and takes their loot for its hoard, but it took a cursed item, or an evil artifact that is now contaminating the dragon's lair. 

Although.. what kind of item would be something that a gold dragon couldn't handle, but an adventurer could? The item would have to particularly harmful dragons or something.

Connections: "A young gold dragon and an archmage are uneasy companions, bound to defend each other by the dying wish of a heroic warrior they both loved."

OK. So, an archmage living with a dragon. The hoard is right there! The archmage probably is dying to get their hands on some of the loot. Then, the dragon brings home this cursed item and the archmage snatches it, but the gold dragon can't bring itself to fight the archmage, who is becoming more corrupted by the magic each day.

Lair: We get a map and all sorts of details. There's a waterfall and pavilions. In the cave is a grand hall and many smaller areas, including a treasury hall, the hoard, and a secret vault. 

Regional Effects: We get a list of effects in the area around the lair. I'm very interested to see what they came up with. There are 3:

"Small runes in the shape of a gold dragon appear to creatures in great need, marking a subtle trail to the dragon's lair."

"Creatures that spend a year within 6 years of the dragon's lair value fairness and justice over their personal feelings."

"Within 6 miles of the dragon's lair, any creature attempting to tell a deliberate lie must succeed on a DC 15 CHA save or find itself accidentally revealing the truth it was attempting to conceal. The first time a creature fails this saving throw, it is immune to this effect for 24 hours."

That last one is hilarious. Imagine there's a town within 3 miles of the gold dragon lair. A town where nobody lies. The heroes show up and are taken aback by the direct, perhaps brutal honesty there. Over time, they've probably become used to the truth, and heck maybe they are even more easily duped. Or, perhaps they don't trust outsiders because of the dishonesty they exhibit.

Then, how do you mix in our disguised gold dragon an the archmage? Does the dragon hang out at the bar and complain about their roommate all the time? Is the archmage the town hero, keeping it safe and helping the populace with their magic?  

Art Objects: A couple quick notes before I pick one item from the list of 10:

Gems and pearls are culinary delicacies to gold dragons. 

They like items they can learn from, such as texts, scrolls, and prophecies.

They often guard dangerous artifacts as a form of public service.

Let's see. I'll go with this one: "A clever clockwork music box that, when cranked, recites a prophecy in modron."

I might change that to a device that counts down to the next Great Modron March. Or, perhaps a device that shows the route of the next modron march, plane-by-plane. If it's a prophecy, It could be about a modron plan to push another stone into Limbo, one that will bring order to the chaos there (despite all previous attempts having backfired spectacularly).

We got all that from 4 pages and a map! Very useful section.

I should also note that throughout this chapter, we get sidebars on prominent dragon NPCs of different types. A lot of them are from the Forgotten Realms. Ashardalon gets a blurb. Ashardalon is mentioned a number of times throughout this book. This red dragon was the villain in Bastion of Broken Souls, a super high level 3rd edition adventure. 

I also really like shadow dragons. They only get three pages in this lair section, no map.

Chapter 6: Bestiary

by Kieran Yanner


The last 65 pages of the book feature monsters and stat blocks for those monsters. 

Since this book focuses so much on gem dragons, I feel like it's a good idea to give you a broad overview of what the different gem dragons are like.

Amethyst Dragon: They "...psionically manipulate the fundamental principles of the multiverse, from the force of gravity to the emanations of the Outer Planes."

They hate the Far Realm.

They "...are intrigued by and fond of flumphs." I cherish any flumph lore.

Crystal Dragon: They enjoy an innate connection to the positive plane (I actually wrote a guide to the plane of positive energy here). 

The study the stars, and see glimpses of the future in the patterns. 

Their breath weapon is starlight! Which does radiant damage. 

In local news, this very much overlaps with my homebrewed "star dragon" that I made when I was a kid. I'll probably just rip off this stat block if I ever use the star dragons again.

Emerald Dragon: They create illusions, often disguising themselves and infiltrating settlements, looking for interesting magic. 

Moonstone Dragon: From the Feywild, these dragons can project themselves into the real of dreams to communicate with creatures who sleep near their lairs. Their breath weapon is moonlight, which does radiant damage. You'd think that since moonlight is sunlight refracted, it would do half damage. Am I right? Ho, ho! Wait, don't leave.

Sapphire Dragon: Militant and territorial, sapphire dragons are always on the watch for Far Realm incursions. Their breath weapon is sonic energy (aka thunder damage).

Topaz Dragon: "Their psionic power manifests the fundamental entropic principle that mortal beings and their creations are ultimately doomed...." Favorite food: Giant squid. Breath weapon: Necrotic energy that weakens targets.

Gem Greatwyrm: These are like.. the ultimate gem dragons. A sidebar explains that there are 5 in particular who are going from world to world, absorbing their "echoes" (we're really all-in on the D&D multiverse in this book) with the ultimate goal being for the 5 gem greatwyrms to merge and become Sardior reborn.

Now let's look at the rest of the monsters. I'll just highlight some of my favorite stuff.

Aspect of Tiamat: Let's see what lore we get here.She is trapped in the Nine Hells, but she can send her aspect to the Material Plane. Not too much here, but it's an essential thing to have in a book like this. 

Dracohydra: "Amalgmating the magic of chromatic dragons with the blood of a hydra resulted in a many-headed draconic monster with wings and multiple snakelike tails."

The image of the dracohydra has 2 white dragon heads, 2 green dragon heads, one blue head, and one red head. The breath weapon is a single shot - "Prismatic breath" which does a type chosen by the dracohydra: acid, cold, fire, lightning, or poison.

I just love the idea of some kooky old wizard, or a cabal of wizards, hiring the heroes to kill a bunch of chromatic dragons and to bring back their blood. Then, kill a hydra and bring its corpse back. The wizards then make a dracohydra which of course, gets loos3e and the group has to deal with.

Dragonborn of Tiamat: I just like the small, simple stat blocks that they often give NPCs. These dragonborns serve Tiamat and work to get her out of the Nine Hells. Their breath weapon does necrotic damage. 

Dragonflesh Grafter: These are creatures who grafted parts of a dragon onto their body. I just think it is a cool idea. I'd like to know more about who or what are actually doing the grafting and making it actually work. You could graft a dragon's wings to your back, or a dragon's head to your shoulder. Lots of fun possibilities.

Elder Brain Dragon: What a tremendous idea. An elder brain is a huge thing that usually just sits in a pool and psychically commands a colony of mind flayers. But here, we see that an elder brain can press its tentacles into a dragon and essentially ride it and control it. It has a crazy breath weapon that I don't want to spoil. 

Ghost Dragon: It haunts it's old hoard! Love it. Your group is out in some forest and are attacked by a dragon. They kill it. They learn that its lair is far away and decide to go there to loot it. Uh oh... the ghost of the dragon is here, possibly attached to a single priceless object that becomes the focus of the undead dragon's existence.

Hoard Mimic: OK, that's funny but not nice. You kill a dragon, oh look, there's the hoard. Oh wait, it's actually a mimic that emits caustic mist that kills the already-wounded party. Tread carefully, my fellow DM.

Overall

This is such an easy thumbs up. If you're a player, there's really not a lot of player stuff. But if you're a DM, this is pretty much a must-buy.

Updates

I updated 3 of my guides with info from this book:

Sunday, May 16, 2021

A Guide to Candlekeep Mysteries

 

by Clint Cearley

This guide is a collection of notes designed to help DMs quickly understand the adventures in this book, and refer to during play for essential information. Basically I'm trying to prepare this adventure for you. I'll also try to identify possible problems that could arise when running these adventures and ways to work around them.

I'll be slowly working on this article over the next few weeks, changing it as needed.

Links

Candlekeep

by Mike Schley
Fortress on a peninsula. Famous for its library containing a vast collection of books, including the prophecies of Alaundo the Seer.

  • Entrance: Double gate (made of black metal, 3x the height of a human) connected to the only road - the Way of the Lion.
  • Guards: 5 Avowed priests (MM pg 348) of Deneir.
  • Caretakers: The Avowed, a legion of scholars and sages.
  • Entrance Fee: A work of writing not already contained within. 
  • Guide: Visitors can request a guide/research assistant. Roll on the chart on page 7.

Defenses and Decorum

If trouble occurs 1 archmage (MM pg 342) and 4 mages (MM pg 347) arrive immediately. If necessary, 4 more archmages can be brought in.

Wards: Many magical effects protect Candlekeep:

  • You can't teleport in to Candlekeep, or use magic to get in. You must go through the front gates. 
  • Fire: Fires larger than a candle are magically suppressed, so spells like fireball do not function.
  • Theft: Books stolen from Candlekeep immediately return there via magic. 
  • Mythal: The keeper of the Tomes can activate a mythal which blocks everything but air and sound from getting in or out of Candlekeep.

Rules: Those in Candlekeep must follow certain rules:

  • No fighting.
  • No stealing.
  • No copying. You can take notes, but getting a copy requires paying scribes to make one.
  • No damaging/marking/modifying works.

The Avowed 

About 300 priests live here, most of which are commoners (MM pg 344).

The Keeper of Tomes: Highest ranking member/governor. Janussi, a human archmage (MM pg 342).

Readers: Master Sage (pg 9) and Sage (pg 9)

First Reader: "Bookwyrm" Skoda Valanaster - dragonborn master sage (pg 9). Job: Acquire unique tomes and scrolls.

Great Readers: 8 scholarly experts in a certain area of study.

  • A'lai Aivenmore: Human master sage (pg 9), worships Oghma. Expertise: Divinity.
  • Alkrist: Bronze dragonborn master sage (pg 9). Expertise: Politics/military battles.
  • Daral Yashenti: Human master sage (pg 9), poet. Expertise: Music/poetry/literature.
  • Fheminor Scrivenbark: Lightfoot halfling master sage (pg 9). Expertise: History/folklore/cultures.
  • Kazryn Nyantani: Human master sage (pg 9). Expertise: Natural world/celestial navigation.
  • Sylvira Savikas: Tiefling archmage (MM pg 342). Expertise: The planes.
  • Teles Ahvose: Human archmage (MM pg 342). Expertise: Magic items, curses, and the Weave.
  • V'ziir-Ag: Githzerai master sage (pg 9). Expertise: Aberrations/undead/Far Realm

Master Readers: Oversee scribes and teach adjutants. Sages (pg 9) and master sages (pg 9). 

Gatewarden: Kalan Strong, human archmage (MM pg 342). Maintains security at the front gates.

(pg 17) The Joy of Extradimensional Spaces

by Kieran Yanner

Adventure Summary
  • The group needs to find a sage named Matreous.
  • He went into a hidden Mordenkainen's Magnificent Mansion.
  • The group can find the command word to open the entrance to the Mansion in The Joy of Extradimensional Spaces.
  • The group goes in, meets Matreous, who exits through the portal.
  • The portal then shuts. The group is trapped in the mansion.
  • In room M5., the heroes learn that a different command word activates the exit portal. This command word is hidden on the spines of 7 puzzle books scattered throughout the mansion. 
  • Once the heroes figure out the command word, they activate the exit portal. Stepping through, they see that an imp has slain Matreous and attacks them.
Puzzle Book Locations
  1. M3. Library: Letter "R", found in stacks of books, guarded by swarm of animated books.
  2. M5. Study: Letter "I", sitting on an armchair.
  3. M11. Laboratory: Letter "T", among the books on the middle table. 
  4. M13. The Chained Library: Letter "L", on the desk by the chained library.
  5. M14. Trophy Room: Letter "Y", guarded by 2 flying swords.
  6. M15. Bedroom: Letter "E", Sitting on a chest of drawers.
  7. M17. Alchemical Laboratory: Letter "B", propped up against a large beaker.
Fistandia
  • Mage who spent many years in Candlekeep
  • Disappeared (the group may learn that she is still alive, somewhere).
  • She bequeathed her books, including The Joy of Extradimensional Spaces, to Candlekeep in her will.
The Joy of Extradimensional Spaces
  • Cover: The cover of this book is decorated with gold filigree, depicting the bust of an imposing spellcaster (Mordenkainen).
  • Contents: Treatise on extradimensional spaces similar to the Mordenkainen's magnificent mansion spell (PH pg 261).
  • Margin Notes: Contains notes on making a permanent magnificent mansion, with command word to open doorway.

Matreous the Sage

  • Expert on curses. Discovered the entrance to this mansion - it's actually in the study room in Candlekeep.
  • He found the command word in other books that Fistandia had donated to Candlekeep.

Beginning the Adventure:

  1. Curse: The adventurers have come to Candlekeep to aid a town that is cursed - its crops have failed/rain has dwindled.
  2. Seeking Matreous: The heroes seek Matreous, an expert on curses who stays in Candlekeep.
  3. Entering Candlekeep: Remember, in order to enter Candlekeep, the heroes will need to offer a book or writing that is not currently in the library. You could say that the people of the village knew this, and gave the group a book that would qualify.
  4. The Study: Matreous is said to be in a certain study. Go to study. He's not there.. but there is an open book - The Joy of Extradimensional Spaces. Arcana DC 13 = Find the command word to activate the entrance portal to the mansion: "scepter."
  5. Quick Note: We are told that the command word is found in 'other books', but the group finds it in The Joy of Extradimensional Spaces itself. I guess you could say that Matreous wrote it in there.
  6. Speak Command Word: Magic doors appear, will fade in minutes. Step through = appear in room M1.
  7. Matreous Found: Matreous is indeed in this mansion, and the group meets him just as they step through the portal.

(pg 18) Fistandia's Mansion

  • Walls: Stone.
  • Floor: Wood, mostly covered in carpets.
  • Light: Lit by oil lamps.
  • Outside the Mansion: Swirling indigo miasma. Enter = 1 level of exhaustion per minute.

Puzzle Books

Opening the portal from the inside of the mansion requires a different command word, hidden in seven puzzle books. These books also bear the image of Mordenkainen.

Imp Figurine

If the group removes this item from the mansion, it becomes an imp that Fistandia had once summoned. In this adventure, the intention is that Matreous takes the figurine out and is attacked by the imp as the portal shuts, trapping the heroes in the mansion.

The Big Pitfall: The biggest thing to be careful about when running this adventure is this scene where the group meets Matreous. He needs to leave this place (exiting through the entrance portal that the group just opened) but the group is meant to stay. The whole deal with this scenario is that the group is trapped in the mansion and needs to find a way out.

If they exit with Matreous, then we have a problem. The tricky part here is... wouldn't Matreous say "we need to get out of here before the portal closes"?? I guess we need to run it where Matreous is so shocked at the group's arrival that he chats them up, steps through the portal, and then is shocked as it closes. Before he can say anything, the imp figurine becomes a real imp and attacks him.

(pg 18) M1. Foyer and Hallway:

The group steps through, the portal does not close right away! Matreous is here, and once he interacts with the group, he steps through, screams (the imp figurine becomes a real imp) and then the portal shuts.

  • Matreous (sage pg 9): Is happy to see the heroes. He explains that there must be a way out. Has a imp figurine he wants to take back to Candlekeep for study.
(pg 19) M2. Patio: Don't forget ,the swirling miasma causes 1 level of exhaustion per minute.

(pg 19) M3. Library: Heaps of books. The swarm knocks a bookshelf on the characters (DEX save DC 15 or prone and restrained). Use an action to make a STR check DC 13 to free self.
  • Swarm of animated books (pg 19)
  • Treasure: Jeweled letter opener (20 gp), puzzle book with letter "R" on spine.
(pg 19) M4. Exercise Room: An animated broom is sweeping the floor. It will ignore the group unless they try to grab it/mess with it.
  • Treasure: 4 daggers (1d4 piercing dmg), 4 quarterstaves (1d6 bludgeoning dmg), 20 darts (1d4 piercing dmg).
(pg 20) M5. Study: (Room full of books. Friendly cat (befriend it = Animal Handling DC 10).
  • Cat (MM pg 320)
  • Investigate room for 30 minutes: Almost all books written by Fistandia. She was a powerful mage, worshiped Mystra. Mystra gave her the mansion. The group can learn from a book in here that the command word to the magical exit is hidden on the spines of seven books in the mansion.
  • (Secret Door): Pull book on bookshelf, bookcase slides forward, reveals staircase down to M17-M19,
  • Puzzle Book: Letter "I", sitting on armchair.
(pg 20) M6. Kitchen: 2 homunculi (MM pg 188) named Cumin and Coriander. They are friendly. They have a list of clues/hints they can give the group.
  • Cats (MM pg 320) are in here, eating.
  • Homunculus facts: Arcana DC 15 reveals that a a master can only have on homunculus at a time (Coriander's master is a spellcaster named Freyot). Both masters are alive, because a homunculus dies when its master dies.

(pg 21) M7. Pantry: Sacks of flour, vegetables, meats.

(pg 22) M8. Dining Room: Table, chairs, tapestries depicting process of making wine.

Chair: One chair in here is actually a weakened mimic (MM pg 220). The mimic escaped from its glass container in M19.

Weakened Mimic: AC 12 HP 30 Spd 15

  • Pseudopod: +5 to hit, 7 bludgeoning dmg + target grappled (escape DC 10)
  • Bite: +5 to hit, 7 piercing dmg + 4 acid dmg. 

Treasure: Silverware worth 20 gp.

(pg 22) M9. Arboretum: Shrubs, small trees, flowers lit by two glowing globes that hang above the plants.

2 faerie dragons (MM pg 133).  These dragons start off invisible. They will each use their euphoria breath on a different character: DC 11 WIS save. Fail = Can't use reactions for one minute, and must roll a d6 on each turn to determine its behavior.

  • 1-4: Takes no action or bonus action, uses all its movement to move in a random direction.
  • 5-6: Target doesn't move, can make a WIS save DC 11 to end the effect.

Spells: These dragons are orange, which means they are only 6-10 years old. They can cast the following spells once per day each:

  • Dancing Lights (PH pg 230)
  • Mage Hand (PH pg 256)
  • Minor Illusion (PH pg 260)
  • Color Spray (PH pg 222)

Treasure: The globes that light the room are driftglobes (DMG pg 166).

(pg 22) M10. Stairs: There is a mundane suit of armor here. Above it is a trap door that leads to an attic. From the attic, floorboards can be removed that allow you access to room M13.

(pg 22) M11. Laboratory: There is a star map on the wall (which gives the solution to the puzzle in M12) and on the middle table is a puzzle book.

Treasure: Puzzle book with letter "T" on the spine.

(pg 22) M12. Planetarium: This room is an illusion depicting a grassy knoll on a moonless night. 5 telescopes pointed at the night sky, and a sphere of clear crystal.

  • Puzzle: If the telescopes are pointed at the 5 brightest stars (the ones shown on the map in M11) then a secret door to M13 is opened.

(pg 23) M13. The Chained Library: A bookshelf covered in chains, a bench, and a reading desk (with a puzzle book on it). 

The Animated Chain Library (stats pg 24): This thing attacks anyone who comes within 5 feet of it.

Treasure: Puzzle book with a letter "L" on the spine, Defeating the chained library nets the group a nifty +1 flail (1d8 +1 bludgeoning dmg) - a chain with a book attached ("Martial Attack Techniques").  

(pg 24) M14. Trophy Room: Chair, table with books, lit fireplace, pair of swords, heads mounted on the walls (if anything in the room is touched, the swords animate and attack).

  • 5 Heads: Stag, wolf, peryton, hell hound, black dragon.
  • 2 Flying Swords (MM pg 20)

Treasure: Puzzle book with letter "Y" on the spine.

(pg 24) M15. Bedroom: Canopied bed, washbasin, black cat napping, painting of a gold dragon.

Cat (MM pg 240): The cat wakes up and follows the heroes around the room. 

Treasure: On a chest of drawers is a puzzle book with the letter "E" on the spine.

(pg 24) M16. Balcony: Overlooks the arboretum.

(pg 24) M17. Alchemical Laboratory: Tables with vials and 4 clay figures, stacks of books, paper charts, and blackboards full of complex formulas. 

  • Examine Formulas: INT check DC 13, learnt hat goal was to transmute various materials into gold. 
  • 4 Clay Figures: Arcana DC 13, learn that these figures are used for creating homunculi (MM pg 188).

Treasure: Puzzle book with the letter "B" on the spine, reagents worth 50gp, and a potion of healing (heals for 2d4+2).

(pg 24) M18. Summoning Room: Circle of runes.

A "Toad": Actually a quasit (MM pg 63), which will attack when approached.

(pg 24) M19. Preserved Menagerie: Glass containers holding creatures. One 4-foot tall vessel is empty (the mimic in M8 escaped from here).

Dead Creatures in Glass Containers: Here are the creatures and some descriptions of them for your players:

  • (Cockatrice, MM pg 42): "A small hideous hybrid of lizard, bird, and bat."
  • (Flumph, MM pg 135): "A small plate-shaped jellyfish with two eyestalks and a mouth on its top side, and many tendrils dangling from its underside." (If the group messes with it, you could say it still has one stench spray chambered, which can shoot a 15-foot-cone of foul-smelling liquid).
  • (Giant fire beetle, MM pg 325): "A beetle roughly the size of a dog with and orange glow emanating from the underside of its carapace."
  • (Small grell, MM pg 172): "A small, bulbous floating brain with a wide sharp beak. Its ten long tentacles are made of ring-shaped muscles sheathed in tough, fibrous hide. Sharp barbs line the tip of each tentacle."
  • (Myconid sprout, MM pg 230): "A humanoid made of fungus, with a vaguely mushroom-shaped head."
  • (Pseudodragon, MM pg 254): "A tiny dragon with red-brown scales, horns, and a maw filled with sharp teeth."
  • 4 Severed Hands 
  • (Slaad tadpole, MM pg 276 - which is actually alive): "A tiny, white, bulbous reptilian head with a very long tail." AC 12 HP 10 Spd 30 ft. Bite: +4, 4 piercing dmg.

(pg 25) Assembling the Books: Once the group has the puzzle books, they'll need to solve the anagram. The word must be spoken within 10 feet of the double doors in M1. to open it. 

(pg 25) Return to Candlekeep: The first character through the portal is attacked by the invisible imp (MM pg 76), Matreous is dead (killed by the sting of the imp). 

Running the Imp: Remember that the imp takes half damage from non-magic weapons, is immune to fire and poison, and it has magic resistance! In order to avoid a swift death, you could have it hover 15 feet above the group, and on its turn fly down, try to sting one character, then fly back up (provoking an attack of opportunity). If it stays within melee reach, it could die in a single round.

Some Items Vanish: The adventure says that certain things the characters might take from the mansion vanish and reappear back in the mansion. Items that remain in their possession:

  • "Treasure"
  • Books
  • Specimens
  • Weapons

(pg 26) Mazfroth's Mighty Digressions

by Mark Behm

Adventure Summary

  • The group needs to find information in Mazfroth's Mighty Digressions.
  • They find it in Candlekeep, but after reading just a bit of it, the book transforms into a gingwatzim and attacks the group. When slain, it is destroyed.
  • The Avowed inform the heroes that this is the third book to turn into a monster in the last few months. They ask the group to figure out what is going on. The reward: A helm of comprehending languages (DMG pg 173).
  • Still needing the info in the book, the heroes can find the person who donated the book (Yalerian Highscroll) in the House of the Binder in Candlekeep. There's also another donor of a "monstrous book" in Candlekeep - a tiefling named Valor.
  • Yalerian tells the group that the journal was purchased in Baldur's Gate, from a market stall with the word "dune" in the name.
  • The heroes can travel to Baldur's Gate and easily find the stall (Amberdune Books).
  • From there, the groups can track the sellers (jackalweres trying to save up money to raise a lamia from the dead) to their lair.
  • At the lair, the group can either attack or negotiate, possibly obtaining 6 books total. They can learn the names of a total of 6 books that are actually gingwatzims.
  • If successful, the heroes can return to Candlekeep and be rewarded with a helm of comprehending languages.

Yalerion Highscroll

  • 26-year-old Scholar (acolyte MM pg 342) from Waterdeep.
  • Bought the book in the markets of Baldur's Gate.
  • Donated the book to Candlekeep.

Mazfroth's Mighty Digressions

  • Worn brown leather cover. Book looks like it could come undone at any moment.
  • Author: Mazfroth Gethur.
  • It's a journal. The writing inside is messy and hasty.  Writings discuss the Weave, Malar/lycanthropy and demon lords of the Abyss.
  • 151 pages long. 
  • Note: Once you finish reading a passage in the journal, the book attacks you.
  • This book is a copy of the original, that has merged with a magical creature known as a gingwatzim, created by a jackalwere named Korvala.

Gingwatzim

  • Stat block on page 27.
  • A sphere of ectoplasm 3 feet in diameter. 
  • Can also assume the form of Mazfroth's Mighty Digressions, and the form of a bat. 

Journey to Baldur's Gate 

Takes 5 days. On the 4th night, a wererat and 3 giant rats attack the group. He keeps back and fires his crossbow, fleeing if the rats are defeated.

  • Return: If he survives, he returns to attack the group again in Baldur's Gate.

The Wide: Streets illuminated by magic lights, expensive restaurants, etc. You can use my Guide to Food and Drinks for menus.

  • Nightly Curfew: You can't legally be on the streets at night unless you have a special token.
  • The Watch: 10 veterans patrol the Wide.

Finding the Stall: The group can easily find the stall (called "Amberdune Books"). If they have no clues, they can make a Persuasion check DC 10 to ask around and find it. Fail: They find it after an hour of searching.

Other Stalls: Let's flesh these out a little bit, just for fun.

Autumn's Breads: Fresh pastries, breads and cakes for 1 sp.
Pastries:

  • Shortcrust Pastries: Apple Pie, Strawberry tarts, Chicken pot pie.
  • Filo Pastries: Apple Strudel, chocolate cigars, baklava, samosas, and crispy tarts.
  • Choux Pastries: Cream puffs, eclairs, churros!!
  • Flaky Pastries: Cherry danish, apple strudel, almond braids, pecan roll-ups.
  • Puff Pastries: Puff pastry pizzas(!), Napoleons (has layers of pastry cream in it - we probably need a different name for this - in French it is known as a mille-feuille), and apple turnovers.
  • Other stuff: Cinnamon rolls, biscuits, scones

Coppers to Crowns: Trinkets! Cost for each: 2d10 cp. Let's pull trinkets from Trinkets of Baldur's Gate, which is just one dollar on the DM's Guild.

  1. A bronze amulet bearing the holy symbol of Lathander.
  2. A steel belt buckle in the shape of a skull and bones.
  3. An unfinished manuscript detailing the taxonomy of the clams and mussels that grow along the local docks (could be used to re-enter Candlekeep, right?).
  4. A brown leather book entitled "The Tales of Sir Gorthoram the Valiant."
  5. A one inch wide, heart-shaped locket containing hair (from the former owner's lover).
  6. A black cloth cloak with red trim.
  7. A smoking pipe for narcotics.
  8. A monocle on a fine brass chain.

Gems for All: A shop with a variety of gemstones worth up to 50 gp. Let's pull them out of the DMG.
10 gp gems:

  • Blue Quartz (transparent pale blue)
  • Hematite (opaque gray-black)
  • Malachite (opaque striated light and dark green)
  • Moss Agate (translucent pink or yellow-white with mossy gray or green markings)
  • Rhodochrosite (opaque light pink)
  • Turqoise (opaque light blue-green)

50 gp gemstones:

  • Bloodstone (opaque dark gray with red flecks)
  • Jasper (opaque blue, black, or brown)
  • Moonstone (translucent white with pale blue glow)
  • Sardonyx (opaque bands of red and white)
  • Star rose quartz (translucent rosy stone with white star-shaped center)

Heath's Hot Drinks: Stall offering cups of mulled wine, hot cider, and strong teas for 2 sp.

Wizards of the Wide: Dozens of arcane foci and spell scrolls for 25 gp each:

  • Comprehend languages (PH pg 224)
  • Detect magic (PH pg 231)
  • Feather fall (PH pg 239)
  • Find familiar (PH pg 240)
  • Mage armor (PH pg 256)
  • Magic missile (PH pg 257)
  • Shield (PH pg 275)
  • Unseen servant (PH pg 284)

Amberdune Books

Has commonplace books (25gp each) and Rare books (250 gp each - but they are illusory!). No spellbooks.

  • Staff: 2 jackalweres (MM pg 193).
  • Korvala: Checks in every two hours.

Staff/Pack: Humanoid forms have dusky brown skin and brown or blue eyes.

  • Avani: Middle-aged, keeps pack from attracting attention.
  • Inbar: Quit, wears spectacles.
  • Marliza: Petite, clever.
  • Ramah: Inbar's brother, outspoken, reads from books aloud.
  • Theryn: Young, repairs books, pick pockets.
  • Zan: Oldest, hums quietly.

Korvala: Tall and imposing.

  • A (jackalwere MM pg 193) woman with brown skin, sun-streaked brown hair, and piercing hazel eyes.
  • Knows the ritual to create gingwatzims.
  • Wants to bring Nidalia, a lamia, back from the dead. Needs money to do so.

25 gp Books (all of these tomes appeared in other 5e adventures/sourcebooks):

  • Book of Drow Poetry (Out of the Abyss Page 173, Treasure)
  • Tome of Universal Harmony, Most holy book of the Deneir faith (Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide Page 28, Deneir)
  • Volo's Guide to Monsters (Tomb of Annihilation Page 24, Volothamp "Volo" Geddarm)
  • (in Draconic) Treasures of the Fire Lords (Tales from the Yawning Portal) Page 29, Belak's Study)
  • One Hundred Years of War, a famous manual of dwarven battle tactics (Volo's Guide to Monsters Page 35, On Defeating Gnolls)
  • Book of Dwarvish Phrases (Waterdeep: Dragon Heist Page 157, Teleportation Circle) [A character who doesn't speak Dwarvish can use the book to communicate on a rudimentary level with friendly dwarves]
  • The Occult Properties of Gemstones by Archmage Tenser (Ghosts of Saltmarsh Page 80, Minister's Sleeping Quarters.)

250 gp Books (illusions)

Speaking with the Manager: Insight check DC 15 reveals that Korvala isn't being truthful. She invites the group to the pack's hideout as long as they are willing to talk peacefully.

Tailing the Jackalweres: Group Stealth check DC 13, follow them back to their lair.

  • Blackgate: The jackalweres live in Blackgate. The wererat Mulishka (MM pg 209) might try to attack them again, accompanied by a swarm of rats (MM pg 339) and 2 human thugs (MM pg 350).

Amberdune Hideout

Hovel with wooden walls.

  • Night: All jackalweres present. All sleep for 8 hours.

A1. Common Room: Charis, tables, mugs and plates.

  • Rug: Rug on the floor is a rug of smothering (MM pg 20) friendly to the jackalweres.
  • Commotion: Sounds of combat draw Marliza (jackalwere MM pg 193) from A2.

A2. Kitchen: Fireplace, cutting board, pots, plates.

  • Marliza and Theryn: 2 jackalweres (MM pg 193) happily chatting.

A3. Corridor Dormitory: Wide corridor with 6 cots.

  • Avani: (jackalwere MM pg 193) is here napping. Sneak = Stealth check DC 10.
  • Commotion: Sounds of combat draw Zan (jackalwere MM pg 193) from A5.

A4. Korvala's Office: Desk, journal, decorative swords, bed.

  • "Decorative Swords": Are actually 2 gingwatzims (pg 27)
  • Journal: Korvala's ledger documenting all book sales.
  • (Trapdoor): Under the bed is a trapdoor leading down to A6.
  • Keys: Korvala has the keys to the two trunks in A6.

Talking: If your group aren't murder hobos, then Korvala will tell them she's doing all this to resurrect Nidalia. She lies and says she's under a geas spell (PH pg 244). If she thinks she's going to get killed, she will hand over the original copies of Mazfroth's Mighty Digresions, The Dark Hunger, and Fallen Tethyamar to the group. Without the threat of death, she wants 250 gp per book. All of these books (and 3 more) are stashed in A6.

A5. Storage Room: Bookshelves.

  • Zan: (jackalwere MM pg 193) Is here picking out books.
  • "Storage Trunk": It's a mimic! (MM pg 220)
  • Bottom Trunk: Has 50 gp.

A6. Hidden Vault: Circular chamber with two padlocked trunks.

  • Pick Lock: DEX check DC 15. Smash with STR check DC 17.

Trunk 1: Nidalia's dessicated heart, and 450 gp.

Trunk 2: Six books:

  1. Mazfroth’s Mighty Digressions
  2. Fallen Tethyamar
  3. The Dark Hunger
  4. Castanamir’s Guide to Gingwatzims (describing what gingwatzims are but not how to create them)
  5. Wanderings of a Humble Aasimar (a treatise on the Outer Planes)
  6. Daughters of Graz’zt (about the origin of lamias).

Conclusion: If the heroes return to Candlekeep with the books, the Avowed reward them with a helm of comprehending languages.

If the group actually helps the jackalweres revive Nidalia, they will have a lamia as an ally.

(pg 35) The Book of the Raven

by Irina Nordsol


Adventure Summary

  1. The group finds a map in the Book of the Raven, which leads to Chalet Brantifax.
  2. At Chalet Brantifax, a band of (lawful good) wereravens are watching over a shadow crossing (portal to the Shadowfell).
  3. The group can explore the chalet. They might run into a poltergeist, and they'll meet the wereravens, who are trying to figure out what to do with an evil item linked to Orcus.
  4. The heroes can actually go to the Shadowfell via the shadow crossing, fighting hordes of undead and exploring a small crypt.

Book of the Raven

  • Covers are cracked.
  • 33 pages.
  • Written by hand (author is anonymous).
  • Pages flutter and rustle if the book is left open.
  • Contents: Author spent 3 months with the vistani. Describes Dasha and Darzin, vistani who healed the author's wounded leg. Provides details on the Vistani way of life. End of the book describes a dark castle.
  • Vistani Lore: Reader can learn about planar travel, Vistani customs, the Vistani's gift to use the mists to travel, and their belief that ravens carry lost souls.
  • A raven brought this book to Candlekeep.
  • 60 years later, a visitor named Anil Zasperdes hid a treasure map in it.

Alternate Hook: The book could also be delivered to the group by a raven.

  • The raven actually contains the soul of Heluthe, a dead daughter of Baron Brantifax.
  • She wants to frighten away the squatters (the wereravens) in Chalet Brantifax (her former home).

Anil Zasperdes

  • A wereraven.
  • Founder of Scarlet Sash - wereravens who steal magic items from evil people.

The Map: The group can easily find Wytchway, a village that has been abandoned for years, and from there make their way to Chalet Brantifax.

The Situation at Chalet Brantifax

  • The Scarlet Sash (wereravens) have been staying here.
  • They monitor a nearby shadow crossing (a portal to the Shadowfell).
  • Day: The ravens lurk in the graveyard.
  • Night: The wereravens creep about Chalet Brantifax, often spending time in area C14.
  • When the group arrives, four members are present at the Chalet: Madrina, Taspar, Rennick, and Vinique.

Members of the Scarlet Sash (they are all lawful good)

  • Madrina Natterask (wereraven pg 47): She is calm and appreciates good manners.
  • Taspar Hatchhill (wereraven pg 47): Tall, old, timid. Polite but nervous.
  • Rennick Groka (wereraven pg 47): Morose, cautious, wise.
  • Vinique (wereraven pg 47): Wry wit, cackles. She brought the Orcus figurine to the chalet.

Orcus Figurine (pg 44)

  • Vinique stole this from an evil merchant and the good-aligned wereravens are trying to figure out what to do with it.
  • It is tiny
  • AC 17 HP 3 immune to all types of dmg except radiant.
  • Undead within 30 feet can't be turned.
  • Dead creatures within 30 feet can't be brought back to life.
  • If you hold it and pray to Orcus for 1 hour, there is a 10% chance of summoning an avatar of Orcus (has wraith stats MM pg 302).

Chalet Brantifax

  • Brick Walls
  • Sturdy wooden doors
  • Oak floors
  • Roof and attic have holes (wereravens use them to come and go).
  • Windows shuttered.

(pg 40) C1. Storage Cellar:  Chairs, small desk, 2 hutches, an ottoman.

Characters with a Passive Perception of 14+ hear someone whisper "I can't get out."

(pg 40) C2. Servants' Quarters: Door is stuck (STR check DC 13 to open). Empty room.

(pg 40) C3. Haunted Well: There is a well in the middle of the floor. A whispering voice comes from it, asking “Brorn! Where are you, boy?”

The former owner of this place fell in the well and died while looking for his dog, Brorn. Searching the well:

  • Climb Walls: Athletics check DC 11.
  • Shaft is 70 feet deep (10 feet of water).
  • Search for 15 minutes: Find a holy symbol of Sune worth 25 gp. If this is given to the spirit in C9., the baron's spirit is laid to rest and the character gains a charm of heroism (as an action, gain 10 temp HP and gain +1d4 on an attack roll or saving throw within the next hour).

(pg 41) C4. Cloakroom: Door is sealed (STR check DC 23). Cloak hanging on a hook (in pocket is key to the padlock in area C16.)

(pg 41) C5. Den: Furnishings covered in dusty sheets. Hunting trophies are on the wall (antlers, wolf heads).

(pg 42) C6. Dining Room: Dining table, chairs.

(pg 42) C7. Kitchen: Rations, spices, dirty dishes.

(pg 42) C8. Parlor: Six-foot-tall harp, gold-inlaid low table.

(pg 42) C9. Graveyard: 4 graves, each with an engraved headstone.

  • Baron Brantifax (Father, buried with signet ring worth 25 gp)
  • Brorn (Dog)
  • Heluthe (Died at age 9, corpse stolen by hag, replaced with scarecrow MM pg 268 and 2 crawling claws MM pg 44)
  • Syplphene (Died at age 6, other daughter, her grave is the shadow crossing). The shadow crossing is detailed further below. Basically, the group can dig up the grave. At night, fog fills the hole and is a portal to the Shadowfell.

(pg 43) C10. Guest Room: Door is open.

(pg 43) C11. Guest Room: Door is closed.

(pg 43) C12. Study:

Rolltop Desk (locked, DEX check DC 13 w/ thieves' tools). In it is the Baron's wife's journal. Takes on hour to read. You learn:
  • Baron was a hunter who loved his dog.
  • Baroness didn't like the chalet.
  • Sylphene was born with deformities. Baroness may have killed her as a "mercy killing."
  • Haeluthe was a tomboy, killed by a wolf on her 9th birthday.
  • Baroness hears "evil whispers" in the graveyard, plans to leave the Chalet forever.

(pg 43) C13. Master Bedroom: Has a secret door that links to C14, where the wereravens are likely discussing what to do with the Orcus figurine.

(pg 44) C14. Baron's Loft: The wereravens are here trying to figure out what to do with the Orcus figurine. They're going to bury it in this room.

Unlocked Wooden Chest: Contains a potion of mind reading (DMG pg 188) that also causes your skin to sparkle for the duration.
The chest also contains 6 trinkets. let's pull them from Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft:

  1. A wineskin that refills when interred with a dead person for a night.
  2. A necklace formed of the interlinked holy symbols of a dozen deities.
  3. A small mirror that shows a much older version of the viewer.
  4. A tiny spool of black thread that never runs out.
  5. A vial of perfume, the scent of which only certain creatures can detect.
  6. A black wooden die with 1’s on all the faces.

(pg 45) C15. Attic Nursery: If the dolls are disturbed, Sylphene manifests as a poltergeist (remember, she's invisible - MM pg 279).

Here's the stat block:

AC 12 HP 22 Spd 0 ft., fly 50 ft. (hover)
STR 1 (-5) DEX 14 (+2) CON 11 (+0) INT 10 (+0) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 11 (+0)
Dmg Res: Acid, Cold, Fire, Lightning, Thunder; Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing from Nonmagical Attacks
Dmg Imm: Necrotic, Poison
Condition Imm: Charmed, Exhaustion, Grappled, Paralyzed, Petrified, Poisoned, Prone, Restrained, Unconscious

  • The poltergeist is invisible.
  • Can move through creatures and objects, takes 5 dmg if ends turn in object.
  • Sunlight gives it disadvantage on to-hit rolls.
  • Forceful Slam: +4 to hit, 10 force dmg.
  • Telekinetic Thrust: One creature within 30 ft. must make a CHA check opposed by the poltergeist's -5. If the character fails, they are thrown 30 ft. and take 1d6 dmg per 10 feet.
  •        OR it can hurl an object 30 feet: +4 to hit, 5 bludgeoning dmg.

(pg 45) C16. Servants' Attic: Door is stuck (STR check DC 13 to open).

Padlocked Trunk: (key is in C4, pick lock: DEX check DC 12).

  • Suit of studded leather (AC 12 + Dex mod)
  • Leather helm
  • Heavy crossbow (1d10 piercing dmg, range 100/400)
  • Wooden case with the monogram B.B. In it are 15 crossbow bolts.
  • 2 hunting traps.

Wardrobes: 5 dusty black robes, 5 pairs of leather sandals, 5 scarlet sashes.

(pg 45) C17. Storage Attic: 2 holes in the roof. Objects covered in canvas sheets (mirrors and paintings).

  • 1 unbroken mirror worth 50 gp.
  • Painting of 3 deer. Worth 50 gp.
  • Painting of a gray mastiff. Worth 50 gp.
  • Painting of a human knight on a hippogriff. Worth 50 gp.
  • Portrait of Baron Brantifax, his wife, and his dog. Worth 50 gp.

(pg 46 )Shadow Crossing

Sylphene's grave is a shadow crossing. To use it, dig up the grave at night and remove the coffin. Fog fills it. Enter the fog and you'll appear in the Shadowfell where creatures attack you in waves:

  • 2 gargoyles (MM pg 140)
  • 12 ghouls (MM pg 148)
  • Drovath Harrn, a wight (MM pg 300). He has a ring of jumping (DMG pg 191).

(pg 46) Harnn Mausoleum

Once the monsters are dealt with, the heroes will find themselves in a necropolis. Here is the Harrn Mausoleum.

  • 1st and 2nd sarcophagi: Contain inanimate human bones.
  • 3rd sarcophagus: empty. (Perception Check DC 13 = find secret compartment containing Drovath's saddle of the cavalier (DMG pg 199). if taken, three warhorse skeletons (MM pg 273) animate and try to slay the thief.

Back to the Material Plane: When morning comes in the Shadowfell, the group can use the grave to return. But the wereravens have filled it in. Crawl out: Athletics check DC 13.

(pg 48) A Deep and Creeping Darkness

by Mark Behm


Adventure Summary

  • A Deep and Creeping Darkness is a journal which tells the tale of a mining town that suffered a disaster and a series of abductions. The town has been abandoned for decades.
  • The heroes are approached by a mining company that wants to get that mine going again. They ask the group to check out Vermeillon and make sure that it is safe.
  • On the way to Vermeillon, the heroes can stop at a town where a few people who lived in Vermeillon now reside. They can pick up a side quest involving a man's deceased wife.
  • Once they arrive at Vermeillon and explore, the heroes begin to hallucinate. At night, they suffer freakish nightmares. This is the doing of the meenlocks.
  • The group might go in the mayor's house, where they can learn what the monsters are and what really happened in the mine.
  • The group goes in the mine. The meenlocks try to pick them off one by one.
  • The climactic battle against the meenlocks occurs in a room rigged with dynamite to explode. The meenlocks will try to set off an explosion if they think they're going to be defeated.
Before You Start This Adventure: Write down everyone's passive perception score! The meenlocks might have to use stealth while menacing them (the meenlocks have +6 to stealth checks).

Finding the Book

A mining/exploration group hires the heroes to find out what happened to Vermeillon.
The mining group knows that the book in Candlekeep has clues.

A Deep and Creeping Darkness

  • Cover: Black leather, with the title embossed on the spine.
  • Neat but not flawless, some spelling errors.
  • Not the work of a professional scribe.
  • Contains eyewitness accounts of what happened.
  • Vermeillon was a village near a platinum mine: Raw ore and refined metal.
  • Nearest settlement is a mountain town called Maerin, which is 3 days away by horse.
  • Mayor of Vermeillon was Mayor Lei Duvezin (who is now a meenlock).
  • 70 years ago, there was an explosion in the mine that killed about 46 miners out of 60.
  • After that, people in Vermeillon began to disappear.
  • People began to believe Vermeillon was cursed and left. 
  • The last page of the book has a rough map of the village's location, with directions to Maerin, the closest town.
  • The book was brought to Candlekeep by adventurers, who acquired it from the bard's grandson.

Meenlock Lore: Let's look at the Meenlock (pg 60) so we can understand how all this works.

  • They are deformed fey that seek to destroy all that is good/innocent/beautiful.
  • Spawned by Fear: In locations where the Feywild is strong, Meenlocks magically form. A lair also magically forms.
  • Their lairs are coated in black moss, which muffles sound.
  • They can teleport from shadow to shadow.
  • They communicate telepathically.
  • Meenlocks can project hallucinations into other creatures - Terrible whispers or fleeting movements.
  • Meenlocks come out at night, paralyze creatures with their claws, then drag them back to their hidden den and psychologically torture them.
  • Telepathic Torment: Up to 4 meenlocks can fill the victim's mind with dreadful imagery and disturbing sounds. The creature must make a WIS save each hour or take 10 psychic damage. Those who die from this instantly become a meenlock. Creatures immune to being frightened cannot be tormented in this manner.
  • Small: One other note. Meenlocks are size small! That means they are 2-4ft. tall and weigh a maximum of 60 pounds.

A Stake in the Mine: Check out page 49. What a cool idea - the heroes can own a stake in a mine. And not some boring mine... a PLATINUM MINE! I'll whip up a "Downtime Activity" based on the running the mine at the end of this chapter in case your group wants to go in on this.

Truth Behind the Tale

  • Meenlocks spontaneously manifested in the mountain.
  • Their lair formed in the mountain.
  • They tortured trapped miners, turning them into more meenlocks.

(pg 49) Maerin

  • Nestled at the foot of a mountain range.
  • Large, but not a city.
  • Has an open-air market.
  • 2 Former Residents of Vermeillon: Lukas Grosvenor (owner of the Bored Weasel tavern and Inn), and Astra Vorn (flower vendor int he market).

(pg 50) The Bored Weasel: You can rent a tub here by the hour!
Salty Fish Surprise: Cup 1cp, Stew 3 cp.

Lukas Grosvenor

  • Human, 95 years old.
  • He worked as a miner. His wife died in the disaster.
  • Asks the group to put flowers on his wife's grave and to find her old necklace in a hollow of the tree in the center of the village and bring it to him. (the necklace is in area V4. on page 53, and the grave is at area V5. on page 53).
  • He will draw a map of the village for them.

(pg 50) The Central Market: Jewelers, clothiers, bakers, farmers, enchanters & alchemists.

Enchanter: The book mentions that an enchanter might be in the market. Seems like a fun thing to flesh out! It would also be fun to link this NPC to a future adventure in this book, so I'll leave it vague until I get through more of this guide.

The enchanter stats are on page 213. (The PH has prices for casting spells on page 159 "Spellcasting Services")

Spells they offer:

  • Mending (PH pg 259)
  • Message (PH pg 259)
  • Mage Armor (PH pg 256)
  • Invisibility (PH pg 254)
  • Tongues  (PH pg 283)
  • Stoneskin (PH pg 278)
Ethically, the enchanter might not be keen on getting paid to cast charm person [PH pg 221] or suggestion [PH pg 279], but maybe a shady back room deal could be worked out.

Alchemist: Let's base this person on the Alchemist/Artificer

They use the experimental elixir, and figured out a way to make them last longer than a day).
Expiration date: Each elixir comes in a glass container that clearly has a labeled expiration date, which is 2 weeks from now.
  1. Elixir of Healing: The drinker regains a number of hit points equal to 2d4 + your Intelligence modifier.
  2. Elixir of Swiftness: The drinker's walking speed increases by 10 feet for 1 hour.
  3. Elixir of Resilience: The drinker gains a +1 bonus to AC for 10 minutes.
  4. Elixir of Boldness: The drinker can roll a d4 and add the number rolled to every attack roll and saving throw they make for the next minute.
  5. Elixir of Flight: The drinker gains a flying speed of 10 feet for 10 minutes.
  6. Elixir of Transformation: The drinker's body is transformed as if by the alter self (PH pg 211) spell. The drinker determines the transformation caused by the spell, the effects of which last for 10 minutes.
Astra Vorn (Doesn't really have any useful info)
  • Half-elf, age 78.
  • Was a child when their family left Vermeillon.

The Road to Vermeillon

Vermeillon is 3 days' ride by horse from Maerin.

(pg 51) Vermeillon

Quiet. Houses covered in vines and vegetation. Trees protrude from fallen roofs.

Important Notes on Using the Meenlocks

OK. This is not easy. Your job here is to use the meenlocks to menace the heroes, using the hallucinations listed on page 51. If they can get one character alone, they will try to attack them, paralyze them with their claws, then drag them to area M9 (pg 59) in the mine.

One thing I'm worried about is, if you succeed, then one player will just be sitting at the table bored for a long time.

Another thing is... players don't split the party that much. It's a running joke in D&D: Never split the party. This seems difficult to do.

I would say that you should have one meenlock stay in the Mayor's House. Two other meenlocks menace the heroes in town. The final three lurk in the mine. Make sure to save at least two for the final fight in M9., which is rigged to explode.

Pairing Up: Meenlocks are small, right? So, if they're going to drag a heavy character to the mine, it would probably take two of them to do it (Meenlocks have a STR of 6). 

Describe Shadows: Make sure to describe the village as very shadowy, even during the day. There are shadows everywhere. That way, it will be more plausible to have the meenlocks move around without being spotted. They can teleport to a shadow (dim light or darkness) within 30 feet. That will make moving around easier.

Spotting a Meenlock: Characters might try to find the source of these hallucinations. Remember that darkness = heavily obscured:

A heavily obscured area blocks vision entirely. A creature effectively suffers from the Blinded condition (auto-fail any ability check that requires sight) when trying to see something in that area.

Bright Light: If a character lights an area that a meenlock is lurking, don't forget that the meenlock has light sensitivity (disadvantage on attack rolls/Perception checks).

Creeping Around: It's very possible that a hero will walk in a shadowy area within 10 feet of a meenlock. This will put the character in the meenlock's fear aura (WIS save DC 11. Fail = frightened for 1 minute). The character might gain the frightened condition and have no idea why. The meenlock can use a bonus action to teleport to another shadow within 30 feet.

Meenlock Plan: Here's my initial idea on running the meenlocks.

Once the group arrives, have two meenlocks lurk in the shadows, teleporting around, creating hallucinations. Ultimately, it seems like the best time to try an abduction is when the group goes to sleep. They'll have to try to paralyze a character and then drop them to 0 HP. The meenlocks don't want to kill them - they want to torture them and then transform them into meenlocks.

The third meenlock stays in the Mayor's House and harasses them in there. This meenlock was the mayor, and still wears the mayor's ring. The group might put this together if they see the ring on the mayor's portrait or the symbol on the ring on the sealed envelope in the mayor's room. 

The other three meenlocks stay in the mine. One harasses the group, probably ultimately trying to trick one character into stepping into the alcove in area M6. on page 58. 

The last two, along with any surviving meenlocks, face off with the group in M9. on page 59, and likely try to blow the whole room up and shadow teleporting to safety.

(pg 51) Lurking Danger

6 meenlocks (pg 60) lurk in the mines. Remember, the meenlocks are out in the day only because it is overcast (When in bright light, they have disadvantage on attack rolls and Perception checks).

One or more characters hallucinate as they explore the town (see the hallucination list on page 51)

Running the Meenlocks: You are meant to run the meenlocks as stealthy foes. They don't run up and hack the group. They creep in the shadows, cause hallucinations, and sneak away. I would suggest saying that only one meenlock is nearby menacing the group - that way, if the heroes find and kill it, there's still 5 more out there, somewhere.

Nightmares: Sleeping in the village: After finishing a long rest, each character must make a WIS save DC 13. Fail = gain 1 level of exhaustion (PH pg 291).

Places of Interest

(pg 52) V1. The Wand and Hammer: Blacksmith's anvil, workbenches.

Search: Investigation check (the higher the group rolls, the more they find) DC 13: False panel in the floor his a shield worth 50gp, 2 short swords worth 25 gp each, and 10 iron bars worth 1 gp each.
If the roll is 18 or higher: Find a dust-covered ring of swimming (DMG pg 193) under the workbench.

(pg 53) V2. Stonemason's Workshop: Headstones, sign that says the Stonemason is in the back. In the back of the house is a half-finished headstone.

(pg 53) V3. Mayor's House: (This place is big, and described more fully in its own section below) Two-story brick house, still in good shape. Huge tree in front of the house (see area V4.).

  • We learn on page 54 that this area is the domain of a meenlock (pg 60) that was once the mayor. She still wears her platinum ring emblazoned with a snowdrop blossom (worth 75 gp).

(pg 53) V4. Tree: In the hollow of this tree is a the necklace that Lukas from Maerin asked the heroes to find.

(pg 53) V5. Graveyard: Headstones and cairns. Most of the graves are of people who died on the same day - the day the mine collapsed.

  • Lorna's Grave: Lukas asked the group to put flowers on his wife's grave here. If they do so, they hear a contented sigh on the wind.

(pg 53) V6. Merchant's Cart: The cart  has stuff in it:

  • Salted dried meats (edible)
  • 3 bolts of fabric (10 gp each)
  • 2 small casks of wine (25 gp each)

Survival Check: The higher you roll, the more you learn:

  • DC 15 This cart has been here only one year.
  • DC 18: Scratches and tooth marks likely caused by animals.

Investigation Check: DC 15 - Find a compartment. In it is a pouch containing 15 gp and a ledger listing sales made in the area.

(pg 54) Mayor Duvesin's House:

(pg 54) H1. Entryway: Dim Light (creatures have disadvantage on Perception checks that rely on sight)

(pg 55) H2. Assembly Room: Bookshelf has old books, painting of a mountain range (worth 2 gp), and a chunk of raw platinum (25 gp).

(pg 55) H3. Meeting Room: Painting of the mayor. She's wearing the ring (which is now on the finger of the meenlock/her).

(pg 55) H4. Dining Room: Just an old dining room.

(pg 55) H5. Parlor: Chairs have mouse holes and rodent droppings. 

(pg 55) H6. Upstairs Landing: Doors to the bedroom are shut.

(pg 56) H7. Daughter's Bedroom: Just an old bedroom.

(pg 56) H8. Master Bedroom: Crumpled papers, envelope, journal.

  • Crumpled Papers: The mayor wrote these letters, asking for aid from other settlements.
  • Sealed Envelope: Letter from the mayor to Maerin, asking for aid.
  • Journal: This is the journal of Mayor Lei Duvezin. She wrote of the mine disaster, sending her family away to Maerin, and how she insisted on staying in the town. The last few entries detail her fear and nightmares.

(pg 56) H9. Library: Books on history, business, folktales, planes of existence.

Open books on table: 

  • Books about trauma and nightmares
  • Feywild Book: A book about the Feywild (with a note on a page about meenlocks: "Could this be the answer?"). The note is on the meenlock section, which details meenlock lore.

(pg 56) H10. Guest Bedroom: Just a bed and a fireplace.

(pg 56) H11. Son's Bedroom: Under the bed is a toy bugbear that has been partially eaten by rodents.

(pg 57) Platinum Mine

A few carts sit outside the cavern. 

(pg 57) M1. Main Tunnel: Once the group enters, each character must make a WIS save DC 14. Fail = disadvantage on INT and WIS checks as they begin hallucinating and hearing whispers.

(pg 57) M2. Southern Wing: There are 3 swarms of bats (MM pg 337) that attack if the group is louder than a whisper. 

(pg 58) M3. Northern Wing: This is where the miners stopped digging.

(pg 58) M4. Cave-In: Attempt to move the rocks: DEX save DC 15 or take 7 bludgeoning dmg from falling rubble.

(pg 58) M5. Entrance to the Meenlock Lair: Black moss cover walls/floor/ceiling (muffles sound - no echoes).

Arcana Check DC 14: These tunnels were made by magic.

  • Succeed by 4+: The meenlocks made these tunnels.

(pg 58) M6. Chamber of Weeping: Deep alcove in the wall.

  • Step Into Alcove: Tentacles of black moss try to grapple the character. DEX save DC 14. If a character is alone and grappled, meenlocks enter this toom and begin to psychically torment them.

(pg 58) M7. Mossy Maze: The meenlocks try to pick off characters who wander off alone.

(pg 58) M8. Pools: 2-foot deep pools of water that look black and in light show strong reflections.

The text says you could put a black pudding (MM pg 241) in one of the pools.

(pg 59) M9. Transformation Chamber: Many stone slabs, 4 pillars (with dynamite affixed to them), and all remaining meenlocks (pg 60)

Any characters taken by the meenlocks are here on a slab.

Pillars: Passive Perception Check DC 18 (or a regular Perception check DC 14) spots sticks of dynamite on each pillars all attached to a trigger.

  • Cut Fuse: Costs an action.
  • Dynamite Stick: If it takes damage, it explodes. DEX save DC 12, take 10 bludgeoning dmg, half on save.

If Meenlocks Sense Defeat: Meenlock runs to trigger, uses action to set off explosion, then bonus action shadow teleport to escape.

Explosion: If you are within 5 feet of a stick of dynamite, DEX save DC 12, take 10 bludgeoning dmg, half on save.

If All 4 Pillars Are Destroyed: Cavern's ceiling partially collapses. DEX save DC 15. Fail = 22 bludgeoning dmg, fall prone, and restrained by rubble. Success = half dmg, not prone or trapped in rubble.

  • Free Self From Rubble: Athletics Check DC 20.

Treasure: In piles of refuse are 50 gp, ivory drinking horn (120 gp), and goggles of night (DMG pg 172).

(pg 59) Fate of Vermeillon

If the group wipes out the meenlocks, settlers will come to Vermeillon and get the mine running again. The characters are local heroes.

(pg 60) Shemshime's Bedtime Rhyme

by Zoltan Boros
Adventure Summary
  • The group ends up staying in the firefly cellar for the night.
  • The next morning, the heroes and the Avowed awake with a curse - they can't stop humming/singing a song.
  • A member of the Avowed, Varnyr, seals them in the cellar, realizing they've been cursed. She doesn't want it to spread all throughout Candlekeep.
  • A series of increasingly dangerous magical events occur, caused by the curse.
  • Eventually the group finds the book (hidden in area F11) and repairs the music box attached to it. Doing so summons Shemshime, who attacks the heroes (note that Shemshime can't be dropped to 0 HP unless crushed by an object weighing 1,000+ pounds!).
  • The heroes can defeat Shemshime by dropping the huge book sculpture from area F1. onto Shemshime.

DM Notes: This adventure is different than the others in the book so far. It is situational! The group is sealed in a cellar, and they'll have to deal with a series of events. When the events happen is up to you!

The trick here is pacing. You can't let this drag, but you want to give the group the space to roleplay. I'd suggest throwing a situation at the group, let them react and respond, and once it feels like everyone's had a chance to say their piece, move on to the next event.

A lot of this one involves roleplaying. If your group is into combat, you might want to throw the 3 shadows on Shemshime's Influence table more than once.

The final encounter might frustrate some players who might not be expecting a "think outside the box" scenario. As the group first enters the areas with heavy objects that can be used to crush Shemshime later on, that you go out of your way to point out how massive and heavy the sculpture in F1 is.

(pg 62) Background

  • Has been in Candlekeep for 600 years.
  • Children's book.
  • Yowen Pilt: Insane person who brought this to Candlekeep. Spread a 'singing madness' among the Avowed.

The Firefly Cellar: Windowless basement underneath the House of Rest. Has lamps lit by fireflies.

(pg 62) The Book

  • Mechanical, made of wood and copper. Front depicts a round millstone.
  • Silver music box set into the book's spine.
  • Book opens to reveal a pop-up cutaway illustration of a watermill - animates 4 serparate scenes while music plays.
  • Scenes depict members of a family dying.
  • Final scene doesn't play out until the built-in music box is repaired (shows the daughter crushing the shadow under a millstone).

Crinkle: Kenku member of the Avowed, took the book to her room and has become cursed by it. Crinkle doesn't tell anybody what is happening! If things play out, the kid will end up beating Crinkle over the head with the book in event 6.

The Song: Always skips back to the beginning of the song before playing the last stanza.

Shemshime's Curse: Anyone who hears the song is cursed to hum or sing it (no save). Resisting the rhyme:

  • Concentration (PH pg 203): If you concentrate as if you cast a concentration spell, you can stop yourself from singing.
  • Silence (PH pg 275)
  • Remove Curse (PH pg 271)

Cellar Inhabitants: All are members of the Avowed:

  • Varnyr (noble MM pg 348): Sun elf scribe. She loves books.
  • Ebder Smallstone (commoner MM pg 344): Human scribe. Anxious, pessimist. His daughter, Gailby, tries to help him keep it together.
  • Gailby Smallston (commoner? MM pg 344): She is a kid, daughter of Ebder. Wears a yellow cape. Imaginative, curious.
  • K'Tulah (druid MM pg 346): Tabaxi. Gregarious, researches folk magic.
  • Crinkle (kenku MM pg 194): Grumpy, lives in the cellar. Has no patience for others. Ring of the ram (DMG pg 193).

(pg 64) Starting the Adventure

You'll need to come up with a reason for why the heroes need to stay in the cellar.

Book Delivery: Once they enter, they see Varnyr on a ladder, who asks the heroes to bring a stack of books to Ebder. Ebder is in F2., who explains that the books are actually for K'Tulah in F13. The group is offered areas F8 and F12 as rooms to stay in.

(pg 65) Event 1: Quarantined

The heroes wake up and are now humming the rhyme. It spreads to K'Tulah and Ebder. Varnyr seals the hatch in F1. and explains that they've been cursed - she's heard the story about the book from 600 years ago.

Exit Hatch: Arcane lock (PH pg 215) Pick Lock: DEX check DC 25. AC 21 HP 60 Imm: Poi/psychic

Shemshime's Influence: We will be prompted to roll on this chart in certain event sections.
3 Shadows (MM pg 269)

(pg 66) Event 2: Ebder's Outburst

Ebder becomes and is cold to the touch. He sings for 5 minutes, then.. roll on the influence table.

(pg 67) Event 3: Singing Skull

The skull of Yowen is hidden in area F4., begins singing. AC 15 HP 4 Imm: poison dmg. It stops singing if destroyed.

(pg 67) Event 4: Escape Attempt

K'Tulah tries to break out. She knows Varnyr has a key to the hatch, and attacks her. The group can make a Persuasion Check DC 15 to calm her down.

(pg 67) Event 5: Puppets

Half of the characters and NPCs must make a CHA save DC 15. Fail = charmed by Shemshime for 1 minute - they are under Shemshime's control and will try to cause harm to others. A charmed creature can repeat the save at the end of each of their turns.

(pg 68) Event 6: Shemshime


Gailby grabs the book and knocks Crinkle out with it (one of them was possessed). Inspecting the book, the heroes can see that its music box was damaged long ago.

(pg 68) Repairing the Music Box

INT check DC 15: The music box is damaged, and it doesn't play the song all the way through. It skips near the end and starts over.

Fix the Box: Requires 3 successful DEX checks DC 15 (each requiring an action). With each attempt, the character must also make an INT save DC 13, taking 14 psychic dmg on a failure, half dmg on a success.

Once Fixed: The tune plays to the end. In the book's scene, Shemshime is crushed beneath a millstone.

New Scene: A new scene appears in the book, depicting the characters in the cellar. It also depicts a replica of the sculpture in area F1.  Shemshime appears and attacks the whoever has the book.

Destroying the Book: Does not have any effect on Shemshime.

Defeating Shemshime: The group needs to drop something heavy on it. Either the sculpture in F1, the bookcases in F1 and F2, or the stone table in F2 (although the table is specifically described as weighing only 300 pounds, and Shem's stat block says the object must be over 1,000 pounds).

Topple Object: Use an action. Shemshime must make a DEX save DC 15 (Shemshime has +3 to the roll).

Reward: The Avowed give the heroes a bag of holding (DMG pg 153)

(pg 70) The Firefly Cellar

3 Floors: No windows! Lit by bottles of fireflies.

  • Top Floor: Area F1. Balcony overlooking F2. Book collection.
  • Middle Floor: Areas F2. - F5. Book collection.
  • Bottom Floor: Areas F6. - F12. Kitchen and living quarters.

What Do Fireflies Eat? How do the Avowed keep these fireflies alive? I looked it up. Some adult fireflies don't eat at all. Some eat nectar, pollen, or... other fireflies. In this adventure, the fireflies are fed vials of nutrients, stored in area F4.

(pg 70) F1. The Stacks, Balcony: Books, statues of scholars, chairs, Sculpture hanging from ceiling.

Bookcases: 10 feet tall, each has a rolling ladder.

Book Lift: Lidded wicker basket, holds up to 50 pounds. Can be lowered to the Middle Floor.

Sculpture: Looks like an open book. Suspended by 3 chains (AC 19 HP 5 Imm: Poison/psychic). This will probably be used to kill Shemshime.

(pg 72) F2. The Stacks: Bookcases, heavy granite table.

(pg 72) F3. Scriptorium: 3 writing desks, moldering tapestry, door. Ebder makes copies of books here.

  • Locked Door: Pick Lock DEX check DC 15. Door leads to F4.
  • Behind the Tapestry: Writing on the wall - the final stanza of Shemshime's song (see pg 63).

(pg 72) F4. Firefly Room: Thousandas of fireflies in terrariums.

  • Boxes: Contain vials of liquid nutrients for the fireflies.
  • Writing on the Floor: Perception Check DC 12: "FINISH THE RHYME"
  • Secret Compartment: Investigation Check DC 20 reveals a compartment in the floor containing bones of two humanoids - Yowen and the Avowed who killed him.

(pg 73) F5. Bindery: Where books are repaired.

  • Workbench holds 3 books: Festivals and Festivities of Ancient Cormyr, Living a Dream: Three Years Among Stone Giants, and Halfling Superstitions
  • Ledger: (reveals titles of 4 books in need of repair - the 3 books on the bench and Shemshime's Bedtime Rhyme).

(pg 73) F6. The Worm Tunnel: Hallway connected to stairs from F2.

(pg 73) F7. Kitchen: Oven enchanted with heat metal (PH pg 250).

(pg 73) F8. Avowed Quarters: 2 beds, unused room.

(pg 73) F9. Gailby's Room: Gailby, the kid, sleeps here. She's been making creepy drawings (scenes from the book).

(pg 74) F10. Ebder's Room: Under the bed is a box containing keepsakes of Ebder's late wife.

(pg 74) F11. Crinkle's Room: Locked (Pick Lock: DEX check DC 20).

Passive Perception 15+: Spot a secret storage space containing Shemshime's Bedtime Rhyme, along with an amber ring (25 gp), dagger (25 gp) 4 bottles (5 gp each), potion of gaseous form (DMG pg 187), potion of heroism (DMG pg 188).

(pg 74) F12. Avowed Quarters: Painting of Candlekeep.

(pg 74) F13. K'Tulah's Room: Clockwork oyster plays soothing music.

(pg 74) F14. Varnyr's Room: Many books, candlesticks lit by continual flame (PH pg 227).

(pg 75) The Price of Beauty

 

by Caroline Gariba

 

I'll be working on this guide for the next few weeks! Thanks for reading.