Crypt, tavern and golden gnomes
Updated: Sep 30
Where and for whom?
You can use this adventure in every fantasy setting. It also can be adapted to horror style setting that happens in more modern times. I will tell you more about how to adjust it at the end of this post.
This adventure doesn't have any set difficulty level. You can play it with a beginner characters but it also work for a more advanced party. The action doesn't take place in any specific location. The only hook point you would need is a small village, near the road, somewhere close to the mountains.
A long time ago, there was a powerful wizard that lived in this area. One day he created an artifact of incredible power. The properties of this item can be of any type since there will be no opportunities for players to use it. The time he was close to the end of his days, he decided to protect the artifact and bury it with him. He created a special crypt for his body and a magical trap that would protect the item from beings looking for power.
When the day came, the wizard was buried inside the crypt. The place was sealed and hidden so that no one could find it, and it was like that for several centuries. One day a demon called Iz'gaag found out about the artifact, and he decided to capture it for himself. He encountered the crypt and opened it, but at the moment he touched the object the trap activated. The magic created a particular space in another dimension and imprisoned there the demon. To escape the place, he has to defeat the celestial being that maintains the magical construct.
That way, the demon, and the celestial guard fight each other since that time. The situation changed when peasants opened a mine close to the crypt. They accidentally made a passage to the hidden chamber of the vault. The demon realized that he could not win with the celestial guard, but he could use humans to weaken the prison and even maybe to neutralize it completely. He started to close their minds inside the magical trap, but their will was not strong enough to sustain that state. Their minds broke, and they turned into thoughtless zombies.
At that moment, the players' characters arrive at the village.
The players' characters are on the road. They can travel alone or with some small company of a merchant, his assistant, and two hired swords. It should depend on the strength of the characters. If they are beginners, it would be better if they travel in a group. Some support might be useful.
Before night, they will arrive at a small village called Orentisk. It's not a prominent place. It has a tavern, blacksmith workshop, some small marketplace, and dozens of houses. In general, nothing seems suspicious in Orentisk. It's a place where somebody like our heroes would stay only for a single night.
The village elder is a farmer called Korden. He lives with his three sons, Mostun, Helff, and Zeld, in one of the houses at the border of the village. They own the biggest farming field in the area and a small ox herd.
The blacksmith is called Velam. Typically he repairs farming tools, and he shoes horses. He doesn't know how to do anything else in the workshop. Things like fixing weapons or armors are beyond his skills.
The tavern's name is "Two Oaks," and its owner is an old Bartram. He runs a place with two youngsters from the village, Bem and his sister Cerlin. The tavern is famous for the delicious apple jam that they make from the local orchards. On the first floor, there are two guest rooms, each with eight beds. On this day, there will be four guests. They are just regular travelers. The players' characters and their companions won't have any problem with accommodation in the inn.
The evening looks like any other evening on the road until a miner enters the hall with his unconscious friend. The miner is called Egen, and his companion on a stretcher is Gurdi. Gurdi looks hurt. You can see blood on his shirt. They are workers in the mine, five kilometers from the village. Egen will wait with talking till the elder is present. When the Korden enters, he will start his story.
Egen's history: Everything started yesterday when we discovered some chamber. It looked like a tomb or something. I was telling them not to enter, but they didn't want to listen to me. Dergel, this fool, was stubborn. He was telling stories about treasures and wealth, so few more stupid ones joined him. I didn't want to participate, so I left the place. With Gurdi, we waited near the fire outside. We stayed there for a few hours and then people started to come out the mine. There was something wrong with them. Their eyes were shallow and empty. AS if they have lost their minds. Soon, they started to attack everyone. Bastards tried to get us too. Gurdi fell unconscious, so I took him and came straight here. Can you help him?
The players should now have a little time to talk with Egen and with the elder. When the talks are advanced, the Gurdi will suddenly stand up, come closer to the fire, vomits vile black liquid, and attacks one of the travellers. From this moment, treat him as a regular zombie. He will engage everyone till he's stopped. This fight should not be difficult. Please, try to use it to build an atmosphere of surprise and unknown.
The elder and the blacksmith will decide that someone should go to the mine and check what happened there. They will offer some sum of money to the heroes for their services. One of the hired blades should also go as help.
In the morning the party should depart for the mine. It is close, so it should not take a lot of time. At the place, they will see a miners' camp with few dead bodies there. Zombies killed those people. Miners are poot so that the players will not find there anything valuable.
The main idea is to make players enter the mines. It's crucial for the rest of the story. You could use a hired blade to convince them if they are reluctant. For example, he could threaten players' characters that they will not get any money if they do not enter with him to check the mine.
Inside the mine, after passing a few chambers and few corridors, the zombie group will appear. The number should depend on the strength of the party. At the end of the fight, one of the players should hit a wall and accidentally open a new passage to the crypt. Players should fall dawn and, in consequence, lose consciousness. It happens because the demon Iz'gaag carried their minds to the magical trap.
The next scenes will happen only in magical reality, created by Iz'gaag. For players, it will look the same as if ordinary reality. In the end, they will notice what is going on but please, try not to make it evident. The best way to do that is to describe everything as it should be but making one element that doesn't fit.
Players' characters will wake up on a wagon on the way to the village. They won't be able to move. Their bodies will hurt badly. Only after they will enter the tavern, they will start to feel better, and rapidly will gain strength and good health. Suspiciously rapidly. Introduce a few elements that were not present in the tavern before. For example, the innkeeper has a wife, and below the stairs, there are some small, closed doors.
There will be some new people in the tavern. Among them, Iz'gaag in the human form. He will appear as a shady gambler and will stare at the players' characters intently. Nobody survived so long in the trap before. He must be fascinated.
From this moment, you will need to include some limitations for the players. They will not be able to leave the tavern. Every time they open the door, the mighty wind will block them. They will not be capable of opening any door nor going upstairs. Also, the magic will not work nor magical items. Of course, no one in the inn sees anything weird in this situation.
At some point, the players should realize that something wrong is happening, and they probably are not in the real tavern. In the exact moment when they will go to talk to the shady gambler or try another random action, the small doors below the stair will open. A little, golden gnome will go through, pass the hall, open the main entrance, and leave the tavern. This view should be very peculiar to the players. They should also notice that the gambler looks with disgust at the gnome. The gnome will ignore everything and everyone. He can not be blocked.
If the players do not decide to talk with the gambler, he will come to them. He will be arrogant. He will swagger. He will be showing that he's better than them. He will be telling them some secrets from their life laughing at them. In general, he will not be a friendly type. The players should notice that he possesses some supernatural knowledge, and maybe strength.
At some point, he should give away his intentions. He wants to convince them to kill a demon hidden in the basement in the form of an old lady. When she is dead, they will return to their world. He will even offer some reward. He will give them a simple dagger. They need to use this weapon to destroy the old lady. The gambler will explain nothing more. If someone tries to attack him, the blade will pass him like through the cloud.
In the basement, there will be a long hallway and a few doors. At one point, the last doors will open, another golden gnome will pass the players and go upstairs. In the room at the end, players will see an old lady working. She is making a small gnome out of clay. She will not be aggressive. If players ask, she will explain that the gambler is a treacherous demon that wants a hidden here treasure for himself. She is just a guardian, and with these golden gnomes, she opposes his magical attacks. Asked how to defeat the demon, she will explain that they can soak their weapons and hands in the water she uses for making gnomes. That way, they will be able to hit the gambler or cast a spell on him.
If players decide to attack the old lady, she will not defend herself, and the first strike will neutralize her. If the players choose to attack the gambler, then you have few options on how defeat him. You can prepare some epic battle for them or simply decide that the first strike will finish with him. Either way, the players will have to defeat the gambler or old lady to escape the magical trap and return to their bodies.
If they kill the old lady, they will be transported to some plain full of darkness where Iz'gaag will present himself in his complete form. As a reward, he will let them keep the dagger. It will be a magical item causing any attacked person to make a saving roll against fear.
If they kill the Iz'gaag a beautiful spirit in the form of a blue dragonfly will appear in front of them. As an act of gratitude, the guardian will give them a little gnome statue. It's a magical item of one use, that will transform into a golem when in contact with water.
After everything, the players' characters will wake up in the hidden chamber. There are no zombies, and also the crypt doesn't have anything unusual besides the old stones. Our heroes can return to the village, inform everyone that the mine is safe now, and claim the reward.
Adjust to a modern horror style.
Instead of the tavern, you could place everything in a small hotel. The building is in a little town deep in the mountains. The mine is nearby the village, but because the doctor is not present, the miners will go directly to the hotel looking for help. Instead of a demon, you could use some entity from another dimension.