Lair of the Wood Witches
The dungeon map for the Lair of the Wood Witches drawn and created “old school” by me.  I love to draw maps! Stocking them is more of a challenge.

One of my younger friends is leaving for college at the end of the week and has been asking me to run a one-off Dungeons & Dragons adventure for some time. I put him off until there was nearly no time left but we were all able to squeeze it in on Monday night. The adventure I created is an opening adventure that can easily tie into any future campaign and can be scaled for nearly any level.  I stocked the dungeon and upgraded the CR of the monsters for five 5th level characters.  There is a main bad guy (Gallezzoulvesperr, a Young Adult Green Dragon with a mutated set of horns forming a “spear” out of her forehead), a coven of Hags (Barezull the Sea Hag, Suuthzah the Night Hag and Druuzella the Green Hag) and a few nasty denizens that are pets of the three witches (an Otyugh, some Dire Bears and a Water Weird)!

The setting for the adventure is in the Forgotten Realms and takes place in and around the environs of the Vilhon Reach.  The characters have been hired by Lord Meehal, a very influential trader located in the hamlet of Merrydell north of the Aphrunn Mountains, to guide 6 wagon loads of iron ore to Hlondeth for sale in the Commerce Quarter there.  The wagons have a minimal guard of 6 hirelings and each wagon has a driver.

Vilhon Reach Map
The Vilhon Reach of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting.  The adventure takes place on the road between Merrydell and Hlondeth.

The following rumors are prevalent in the region as the party accepts the job and begins their 2 day journey to Hlondeth.

  • The Cult of the Serpent Lord has been active in the mountains located to the north of Hlondeth.  The cult is interested in spreading the religion of Sseth in the region and hope one day to be able to return to prominence in the City Council in partnership with the Cathedral of Emerald Scales.
  • There have been a rash of kidnappings of young people over the past few months.  These kidnappings are random and are not targeting wealthy families.  The victims are not harmed and are returned to their home in 4-5 days with no apparent injuries or ill effects.
  • The Yuan-ti in the City of Hlondeth are very divided and have formed into a few camps with the main players being the Zhuevultiere Tribe led by Arak-Glis, the Viper’s Den Assassins Guild led by Sazzen-xuk and the Temple of Zallahst who worship a deceased god known only as Zehir.
  • The Viper’s Den have found an Anathema in the under-depths of the City and need the Manahari Gem to resurrect their god.

With that we started the adventure and the party consisted of 2 Fighters (Bruno who wields a two handed battle axe, Damean who dual wields 2 short swords), a Barbarian named Mill (who uses a very large Glaive with deadly effect), “One-Eye”, a Dwarven Rogue and Lappus an Elven Cleric.

The party journeyed approximately 15 miles outside of Merrydell and encountered a strange situation with a mountain goat.  The goat was simply chewing its cud on top of a nearby rise, not bothering anyone and about 30 seconds later disappeared behind some hemlock trees and was then seen hurtling through the air after having been thrown like a projectile toward the wagon in the middle of the group destroying the wagon and killing the goat!  With that, a group of fairly large Ogres began to bear down on the wagons.  The party took care of the threat and injured one Ogre that was able to make his way back to the hemlock trees and became untrackable.  The party did find a crudely drawn map on the Ogres that looked like this:

Ogre Map
The party couldn’t decide what the map meant but it seems pretty clear to me – upside down V, wavy line, a 2nd upside down V and a cloud?!?

The party decided to quickly make their way to the next town which was named Lanram where they found the Ragged Flagon Inn which was owned by a very energetic and talkative bar keep named Tellfaire.  In the process of serving the party, he heard about their trouble and mentioned that Farmer Carter down the road had a run into a similar band of Ogres and he might know where they were located at.  The party decided to go see Farmer Carter and when they arrived there they found that Farmer Carter had recently been brutally murdered along with his wife.  There did appear to be a third victim that was drug through the blood, out the front door of the house and into the woods to the northwest.  The party decided to track the drag marks and came to a fairly sizable mountain/hill, crossed over the mountain and came to a river then came to a second peak which they crossed over and came to a deciduous forest where they could see a large tree that stood out from the rest of the forest. They deduced that the map was pointing toward a large tree rather than a cloud! Good job guys!

As they approached the area of the large tree, they spotted a lizard man guard basking on top of a large boulder about 50 feet from the large tree.  As they watched, they noticed that there was a small fire behind the boulder and what appeared to be at least one other individual. The Rogue was confident in his ability to sneak up and recon the area to see what threat was hidden but Damean insisted that he come with him.  Reluctantly, One Eye agreed and they started out fairly well until Damean finally stopped rolling well and was cracking sticks left and right as he stepped. This awoke the guard and he alerted the other guards behind the boulder which included 2 more Lizard Men and 3 Kobolds.  The party had a bit of difficulty with them as they were fairly skilled with their bows and continued to hit the party often.  One of the guards was able to secret himself toward the back side of the tree and appeared to disappear as he didn’t come back out to join the battle.  The party was victorious and moved to investigate the tree only to find no sign of anyone.  They looked up the trunk of the tree but couldn’t see any signs of it having been climbed.  The Dwarf then made a roll using his Stone Cunning (I allowed it in this instance) to spot a very well made (most likely using magic) door into the trunk of the tree itself.  It took a few moments but they were able to open the door which descended into a large hollowed out space about 20′ below the surface.

the Tree
The tree….leads into an underground complex!

As the party gathered themselves in the underground entrance, they were hyper aware of the area and seemed to be very skittish as they presumed that the guard that ran made his way down here and had raised the alarm and was mot likely lying in wait.  In actuality, the lizard man was unable to find the edge of the door to allow entrance into the complex and had to run into the woods to the north to get away so there was no alarm raised.  As they continued forward, the dirt changed over to stone as they descended about 25′ as they walked down the stairs toward the sound of running water.  The tunnel led them to a flattened area that was shaped like a circle and had a very spongy surface.  They noticed that they were standing on what appeared to be a large compost pile full of food, bones, tattered cloth, etc.  As they stepped onto the spongy surface, Damean felt a very heavy movement under his feet and at that moment, a large monster burst forth from the trash latching it’s tentacles onto his torso and biting him on the arm! The Otyugh was placed here by the Witches as an initial guard but also to act as the garbage disposal for the denizens of the complex.

Otyugh
The Otyugh got into Damean and grappled him and bit him.  He missed the save and contracted “Filth Fever”, which would manifest in 1d3 days with puss filled blisters and a high fever.  Yuck!

The party was in trouble as the Otyugh was using Damean as a shield offering it a +4 AC bonus for the duration of the grappling which lasted 3 rounds.  The Cleric very foolishly ran up to attempt to heal Damien and fell into a very soft spot of the compost heap and suffocated before they could assist her.  Finally, Mill was able to force his way around to flank the Otyugh and skewered it with his Glaive.  The damage was done and everyone was upset that the “heal bot” was dead!  I laughed.

They then moved into the next area of the complex and came to a large room that was filled with 3′ tall mushrooms that offered a luminescent light to the room which made it eerie!  The party also noticed that there were three passages at the back of the fungi room that had large statues set in the middle of the passages with their arms outstretched pointing forward.  The Rogue was able to climb up onto the walls and ceilings to get over toward the statues and noticed that the ends of the statues fingers were hollow!  The party (correctly) surmised that this was a trap and that the fungi would be shot by projectiles causing them to either explode or to release some deadly spores.  In looking at the room, there didn’t appear to be any easy way to maneuver across the room with out coming in physical contact with the mushrooms which was also a concern as this might cause an explosion.

Fungi trap
The fungi trap room! Be careful as they will explode with the slightest touch.

They then very skillfully put their heads together and figured out that there must be something under the bridge that would allow them to get through or past the room.  The Rogue climbed down to investigate and saw a passageway under the bridge that would take them under the room to avoid the issue.  He wasn’t able to see the pressure plate though, try as he did, and once they all got under the bridge, the first step caused the statues to fire their projectiles into the mushrooms causing a large concussive explosion that released a cloud of spores that began to come down the cliff edge and into the passage way.  The party was forced to make Fortitude saves (DC15) and half failed either leading to being blind in one eye or deafened.

The party spent some time investigating down several of the side passages in the next part of the complex encountering several Kobold guards and a nasty Cave Spider with a wicked bite and great camouflage!  They then encountered a nasty Hag Spawn by the name of Wealton, who is the lover of Druuzella the Green Hag.  He is a fairly skilled assailant with a Composite Long Bow +2 and was able to get several shots off on the party before they assaulted his elevated spot at the top of some stairs.

Wealton
Wealton the Hag Spawn! He was perched at the top of the stairs firing arrows at the party until they charged, tripped a line that released grease that coated the stairs and then folded into a ramp that caused the party to slip and fall down prone at the bottom.  It was a great setup!

The party had a tough time with Wealton but finally subdued him and questioned him about what he was doing there and what this operation was about?  Wealton didn’t give up much but did mention his love for Druuzella and that he would kill them if they hurt her.  He also stated that “Green Spear” would not allow them to hurt her if he failed!  They asked who this “Green Spear” was and all he would say was that “She was poison!”

The party tied him up and ventured further into the complex encountering more Lizard Men, Kobolds, a few Troglodytes and the injured Ogre that had escaped them at the outset of their journey.  He would not escape again though!

They then came into a large room that had an alter at the center with a young woman tied to it.  There was a cauldron on an open fire that was bubbling about 15′ from the altar and sitting in the corner were the Wood Witches with “Green Spear” perched atop a cliff about 60′ high on the opposite wall.  There were also several Troglodyte Clerics around the altar and 2 Lizard Man guards near the Witches.

Green Spear
“Green Spear” the Young Adult Green Dragon along with the Wood Witches.

“Green Spear” spoke up and asked why the party was here?  They didn’t respond quick enough as she shouted, let me tell you!  She then began to inform them that she had hired Lord Meehal to find them soft targets to ambush on the road in order to capture and perform transformations on using their special “Black Broth”.  This concoction slowly transforms any unlucky enough to drink it into a baser creature like the Lizard Men, Troglodytes and Kobolds.  They then ship these poor souls to Hlondeth to serve their various agents there including Attarin the Wererat Rogue, the Scarlet Knights and the various factions of Yuan-ti tribes.  At that moment, the party could see that the young woman on the altar was suddenly violently shaking and that her skin was bubbling and then she slowly changed into a more reptilian figure.

“Green Spear” then introduced her allies in the three Witches and the battle was on.  The Hags used their many spells including Invisibility, Force Cage, Obscuring Mist, etc. to attempt to first capture the party.  The party fought valiantly and killed the Troglodytes and Lizard Men and then the dragon came into the fight after casting Shocking Grasp, she bit at Demean as she flew by connecting for a significant amount of damage (25) softening them up and waiting for them to group themselves closely together for her breath weapon.  Mill then raged (as he had done several times already in the adventure) and charged his full movement of 150′ (30′ base + 10′ fast movement + 10′ for Boots of Striding and Springing) to engage the Witches.  They attacked him but without affect and he was able to get a critical hit on Barezull doing 44 damage and killing her on the spot!  What a great stroke of luck for the party!  This enraged the other 2 hags and they both lashed out on Mill connecting viciously with 4 claws adding rend damage.  He was able to shrug it off and connected on Suuthza nearly killing her and causing both witches to cast Invisibility and move toward the portcullis in the back of the alcove area.  At that moment, “Green Spear” dove down to breathe her poisonous gas on Damean as One Eye was hidden under the altar trying to look for an opportunity to flank and do significant damage with his daggers.  “Green Spear” breathed and Damean was able to save (the rolls were atrocious) only doing 22 points of damage and she also rolled poorly on her fly check crashing into the stone wall stunning herself for a moment.  While she was distracted, Mill was able to scale the wall under the cliff which was about 60′ up, drink a healing potion and get atop the area in order to attack the dragon.  The next round when “Green Spear” tried to fly back up to the safety of the ledge, Mill was waiting, crouched like a spring to attack her!  He jumped on her back, stabbing deeply with his Glaive causing significant damage (26) because I gave a bonus for his bulk coming down on her!  She didn’t like this and tried to spin him off to no avail.  Mill again attacked and struck deeply causing the dragon to turn her head around and breath on Mill, which he saved (and she rolled poorly again) and only took 18 damage!

“Green Spear”, feeling abandoned by her allies, decided to swoop down on the Rogue and attempt to skewer him with her deformed horns in the form of a spear.  She was able to connect squarely, penetrating into the Rogues chest and then lifting him up as she began to attempt to fly toward the opening in the ceiling nearly 80′ up.  With his dying breath, One Eye was able to stab at her eyes with his daggers, blinding her in one eye but causing her to drop him to his death on the cold, stone floor 80′ below.  She then failed her fly roll again and came crashing down where Mill and Damean were able to finish her off with two well timed strikes.  The threat was over but not without a price!  The 2 remaining party members were both badly hurt (both under 15 HP), out of potions and low on friends so decided to leave the complex to warn the town and prepare for further adventure in Hlondeth!

-Grant