The Black Book
Author: Matthew J. Finch
Website for more DM Resources: http://mythmere.tripod.com/index.html
Copyright August 2002, Matthew J. Finch, all rights reserved. No claim is made to any intellectual property of others, including WOTC.
All content is Open Game Content other than names, artwork and non-game specific descriptions.
OGL:Text of Open License Agreement
Map File:Click here for map
The Black Book is an adventure for four D&D 3E characters of 6th to 8th level, generally of good alignment.
DM Summary: The party discovers a notebook containing the journal of an expedition to destroy an evil temple. The expedition was either captured or killed. It is a long way to the nearest temple of Pelor, and some of the original expedition might still be alive (nope), so the party should follow the clues to the Temple and attempt a daring rescue. The adventure can begin near any rural hamlet or settlement, but it has to be small enough not to contain a temple or a cleric of Pelor. Statistics for the small settlement of Diffryfaine (DIF-ree-fayn) are included here.
Adventure Background: In days gone by, followers of Erythnul, the god of slaughter, built a small underground temple in the remote hills. The builders, a sect known as the Creators of Destruction, occupied themselves with inventing instruments of destruction, tools of war and mayhem, and other such devotions to their bloodthirsty master. The sect came to have a reputation for great intellectualism among the bugbears, trolls and other such followers of the same dark deity, and the temple, though small, became a focus for considerable mayhem directed against nearby human settlements. Eventually, word of the temple came to the clerics of Pelor and Kord, who set themselves against the temple, stormed it, and laid the evil to rest. These events were so minor and took place so long ago that the temple has all but faded from human memory. Unfortunately, divine memory, even the memory of a god insane by human standards, remains deep and abiding. Three years before the events of this adventure, a minotaur cleric of Erythnul began having visions of a ruined temple near a needle-like rock spire. The minotaur and his followers, guided by visions, soon found and reoccupied the temple. Our story begins two years after the reoccupation of the Temple of the Needle Spire. Three clerics of Pelor (Adelard, Breed and Cadfrain), and an apprentice bard named Surris, discovered the existence of the temple and decided, rashly, to cleanse it of the evil reawakening inside. All four adventurers perished in the attempt. The hags concocted a plan to bring more good-aligned victims to the Temple. They dipped Surris’ notes on the expedition into ink, leaving the cover page undamaged so as to permit the notebook to provide identification. They did not realize that once the ink dried, some of the original text would also remain visible. And it is this notebook which falls into the hands of the party. . .
The Hamlet of Diffryfaine (yes, technically it’s a not even big enough to be a thorp, but they call it a hamlet)
Population: 15, on the three farms of Densfarm, Roakshief, and Whitegate.
Densfarm: Duroon, patriarch of Densfarm (Com4), his wife Mercilinn (Com2), their three children Warden (Com1, age 20), Wallace (Exp2, age 18), and Wade (Com1, age 15).
Roakshief: Barton of Roakshief (Com3), his wife Linsayne (Com3), their children Winifred (Com1, age 18), Keith (Com1, age 16), and Hailinn (Com1, age 14).
Whitegate Farm: Murdoch of Whitegate (Com3), his wife Jainacyn (Exp1/adp1), their children Annafryd (Com2, age 20), Merton (Com1, age 17), and Lissa (Com1, age 16).
If the party wants to try and track the visitors, or proceed directly to the Temple, one of the villagers, Wallace of Densfarm, will be willing to help with tracking (and will recognize the landmarks described in the notebook), but will not participate in combat or even enter the Temple.
Wallace of Densfarm, male human Exp2: CR 1; Size M (5 ft., 4 in. tall); HD 2d6+2; hp 14; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 12 (+2 Dex); Attack +1 melee, or +3 ranged; SV Fort +1, Ref +2, Will +5; AL NG; Str 10, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 11, Wis 11, Cha 8.
Skills: Climb (+2 Rank) Hide +7 (+5 Rank, +2 Dex), Listen +2 (+2 Rank), Move silently +2 (+2 Dex), Profession (hunter) +2 (+2 Rank), Sense motive +2 (+2 Rank), Spot +0, Swim +2 (+2 Rank), Wilderness Lore (+5 Rank), Use rope +4 (+2 Rank, +2 Dex); Feats: Track, Run.
Adventure Start: The evening is darkening into twilight, and you come across a small cluster of stone cottages with thatched roofs, nestled against a hillside. The villagers are gathered around a bonfire outside, and one of the commoners removes his hat and approaches the party. "Good morrow, Master adventurers. Welcome to Diffryfaine. I am Duroon of Densfarm. Would you be good enough to consider doing a small favor for our little hamlet?" If the party expresses any interest (or leaves Duroon the opportunity to keep talking) he continues: "A week ago, two men and a woman came to the hamlet carrying a leather bag as large as a tall man. They told us to make sure that the bag was delivered to a Temple of Pelor, and that if we didn’t, a terrible doom would come upon us. But we only see a cleric of Pelor every few months, when they come here. We can’t send someone traveling through the wilderness. Can you take the bag for us?"
The bag is leather, and very heavy. It clanks when it is moved. It is found to contain three suits of full plate armor decorated with symbols of Pelor, three maces, four skulls, and a leather-bound notebook that appears to have been dipped in black ink. The first page of the book seems to have been kept out of the ink deliberately, and reads, "Journal of our Quest to Find and Destroy the Temple of Erythnull referred to in Carthail Crall’s last letter." As you flip further through the book, however, you notice that in some places the color of the original ink shows faintly through the more recent coating of black.
DM Note: The first thing is to make sure the players open the bag! If it looks like they might not, Duroon can mention that the villagers opened it already, and that the contents are very strange. Try not to let timorous players run the party back to a temple of Pelor for instructions; the members of the lost expedition might still be alive, held in durance vile! If they do insist on finding a temple, though, efforts to speak to the priesthood of Pelor will not yield results; the three clerics were a traveling adventuring company and did not inform any other clerics of their plans to attack the temple. The temple will ask the party to recover the clerics, if possible.
Contents of the Black Book
The cover page of the journal is entitled, "Journal of our Quest to Find and Destroy the Temple of Erythnull referred to in Carthail Crall’s last letter."
Pages One through Three: The four…set out…who seems a bit…long journey…won’t bother to record all of the quaint settlements and interesting people…getting very irritated with peasants. …from the stalk of stone north to the broken tree at the edge of a cliff. Yesterday…hungry…bear ate my rations. Stupid clerics don’t talk in iambic pentameter. The priests with me won’t talk the way they should. Temple was originally … sect of Erythnul … Creators of Destruction … like tools and weapons.
Page Four: West from broken tree to deep ravine. Now north to the needle spire. Here at last, I think…just south of a standing rock with a hole like the eye of a needle. A group…bugbears carrying a goat…out later.
Page Five: Holy crap! I mean, by Pelor! …the riddle… "Named from the …, deadly am I. Named for the dawn, … spawn. Light in the night, at your … in a fight." stupid riddle. shadows…weapon? …like blood spattered tops. …idol. Must keep the hags apart. Oops, more later! [last entry].
If a member of the party succeeds at a Decipher Script check, they will be able to decipher the entire riddle: Named from the sky, deadly am I. Named for the dawn, ruin I spawn. Light in the night, at your right in a fight. (see text at location 2 for answer).
General notes: Although the hags and the minotaur are expecting a party to come and attack them at some point, they are utterly confident in their ability to deal with such an attack whenever it may come. The novelty of their little trap has worn off, and they are no longer keeping a particularly close watch on arrivals. Moreover, as the entrance to the Temple provides its own security, the party will find that they have not set off an alarm by entering the complex. There is no organized defense prepared (these are chaotic evil monsters).
Player Description: As you follow the directions to the Temple of Erythnul set forth in the ink-stained journal of Surris the Bard, the land becomes progressively rougher and more barren. The book’s landmarks are taking you higher and higher into the hills, and into an area of stunted trees and strangely gnarled scrub. Most of the ground cover is rough gorse and heather, with the occasional thistle or hollybrake providing a meager variety. Finally, as you are searching the horizon, your eye settles upon an unusual rock formation – a spike of rock with a hole near the top, just as described in the black book. Nearby, there is a great black iron door in the side of the hill, recessed about two feet from the rock face into which it is set.
The Riddle: If a member of the party places his hands on the handprints and answers "morning star," the stone door (but not the iron door) will open, and the shadows (see below) will be sucked back into the void from which they were summoned. If the party is utterly failing to answer the riddle, allow a cleric or paladin to remember what he knows about Erythnul by looking in the PH (where it is mentioned that Erythnul’s weapon is a morning star).
Monsters: The shape emerging from the fissure is a shadow. Another shadow will emerge after three rounds, and another every three rounds thereafter until the riddle is answered. Allow each player one guess at the riddle per melee round, but don’t give them too much time to mull it over. If this process is reducing the party too far, stop the new shadows from emerging. Shadow: CR 3; incorporeal; HD 3d12 (19 hp); hp ; init +2 (Dex); Spd 30 ft, fly 40 ft; AC 13 (+2 dex, +1 defection); Atk Incorporeal Touch +3 melee; Dam 1d6 temporary strength; SA: Strength damage, create spawn; SQ Undead, incorporeal, +2 turn resistance; AL CE; SV Fort +1, Ref +3, Wil +4; Str --, Dex 14, Con --, Int 6, Wis 12, Cha 13. Skills: Hide +8, Intuit Direction +5, Listen +7, Spot +7. Feats: Dodge.
Troll: CR 5; SZ L; HD 6d8+36 (63 hps); init +2 (Dex); Spd 30ft; AC 18 (-1 size, +1 dex, +7 natural); Atk 2 claws +9 melee (1d6+6), bite +4 melee (1d6+3); SA: rend 2d6+9 (when both claws hit) SQ regeneration 5, scent, darkvision 90 ft; AL CE; SV Fort +11, Ref +4, Wil +3; Str 23, Dex 14, Con 23, Int 6, Wis 9, Cha 6. Skills: Listen +5, Spot +5. Feats: Alertness, Iron Will.
Treasure: The troll’s treasure is haphazardly accumulated in a big bag next to one of the beds in the room. The treasure includes: 1,000 sps, a shiny metal button (0gp), a black star sapphire (1,200 gp), a promissory note "Note of Hand" made a year ago by one Othno Fastwise, halfling, promising payment of 600 gps and 4 goats within a fortnight to one Thuzgrud the troll (nontransferable and nonassignable)(0gp based on disclaimers in the text of the note), a large lump of amber (130gp), and an irregular pearl (16gp).
Annis (1): CR 6; Large Monstrous Humanoid; HD 7d8+14; hp 45; init +1 (Dex); Spd 40 ft; AC 20 (-1 Size, +1 Dex, +10 Natural); Atk 2 claws +13 melee (1d6+7), bite +8 melee (1d6+3); Face/Reach: 5x5 ft / 10 ft; SA: Improved Grab (see pg 9 of the Monster Manual), Rend 2d6+14 (add’l damage when hitting with both claws), Tear (automatic hits with all melee attacks while target is held), spell-like abilities (change self and fog cloud 3/day); SQ: steely skin (piercing damage reduced by 1 point per hit, bludgeoning damage increased by 1 point per hit); SR 19; AL CE; SV Fort +6, Ref +7, Wil +7; Str 25, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 13, Wis 13, Cha 10. Skills: Concentration +12, Hide +7, Listen +11, Spot +11. Feats: Alertness, Blind-Fight, Combat Casting.
Treasure: the slightly roasted pig (Win some, lose some. Anybody hungry?)
Annis (2): CR 6; Large Monstrous Humanoid; HD 7d8+14; hp 45; init +1 (Dex); Spd 40 ft; AC 20 (-1 Size, +1 Dex, +10 Natural); Atk 2 claws +13 melee (1d6+7), bite +8 melee (1d6+3); Face/Reach: 5x5 ft / 10 ft; SA: Improved Grab (see pg 9 of the Monster Manual), Rend 2d6+14 (add’l damage when hitting with both claws), Tear (automatic hits with all melee attacks while target is held), spell-like abilities (change self and fog cloud 3/day); SQ: steely skin (piercing damage reduced by 1 point per hit, bludgeoning damage increased by 1 point per hit); SR 19; AL CE; SV Fort +6, Ref +7, Wil +7; Str 25, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 13, Wis 13, Cha 10. Skills: Concentration +12, Hide +7, Listen +11, Spot +11. Feats: Alertness, Blind-Fight, Combat Casting.
In covey: 3/day animate dead, bestow curse, control weather, dream, forcecage, mind blank, mirage arcana, polymorph other, veil, vision. Cast as by 9th level sorcerer (save DC+spell level). Must all be within ten feet, full round action.
Ogres (6): CR 2; large giant; HD 4d8+8; hp 24; init -1 (Dex); Spd 30ft; AC 16(-1 size, -1 Dex, +5 natural, +3 hide); Atk Huge greatclub +8 melee; Dam Huge Greatclub 2d6+7;Reach 10'; SQ none; AL CE; SV Fort +6, Ref +0, Wil +1; Str 21, Dex 8, Con 15, Int 6, Wis 10, Cha 7. Skills: Climb +4, Listen +2, Spot +2. Feats: Weapon Focus (greatclub).
Treasure: Ogres: 9,000 sps, 3 40 gp gems, 100 gp gem, arcane scroll of misdirection (150 gp market value, caster level 3), wand of ghoul touch, market value 4,500 gp. Hags: 6,000 sps, amulet of natural armor (+1), market value 2,000 gp.
Monsters: Ha-Aiman, male minotaur Clr6: CR 10; Size L (7 ft., 7 in. tall); HD 6d8+18 + 6d8+18; hp 85; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 17 (+1 Dex, -1 Size, +5 Natural, +2 large steel shield); Attack +16/+11 (+4 Base, +6 Str, -1 Size, +6 natural, +1 magic weapon) melee, or +10/+5 (+4 Base, +1 Dex, -1 Size, +6 Racial) ranged; SV Fort +10 (+5 Base, +3 Con, +2 Racial), Ref +8 (+2 Base, +1 Dex, +5 Racial), Will +12 (+5 Base, +2 Wis, +5 Racial); AL CE; Str 23, Dex 13, Con 16, Int 6, Wis 15, Cha 8.
Languages Spoken: Common, Giant.
Domain Abilities: Evil (+1 caster level to Evil spells), War (weapon focus morning star)
Skills: Hide -3 (+1 Dex, -4 Size), Intimidate +5 (-1 Cha, +6 Racial), Jump +10 (+6 Str, +4 Racial), Listen +10 (+2 Wis, +8 Racial), Move silently +1 (+1 Dex), Pick pocket +2 (+1 Rank, +1 Dex), Profession +6 (+4 Rank, +2 Wis), Search +6 (-2 Int, +8 Racial), Sense motive +4 (+2 Rank, +2 Wis), Spot +10 (+2 Wis, +8 Racial); Feats: Craft wondrous item, Empower spell, [Power attack], Scribe scroll, [weapon focus: morning star].
Possessions: Potion of Cure Serious Wounds, +1 magic large morningstar (2d6+1 damage), large steel shield.
Cleric Domains: Evil, War.
Cleric Spells Per Day: 5/4+1/4+1/2+1. Level 0: Cure Minor wounds, Detect magic, Light, Resistance, Virtue. Level 1: Bless, Endure Elements, Entropic Shield, Protection from Good, Shield of Faith. Level 2: Bull’s strength, Darkness, Death Knell, Silence, Spiritual Weapon. Level 3: Cure Serious Wounds, Meld into Stone, Magic Vestment. Bold type indicates a domain spell.
Tactics: Cast Bull’s strength, bless, magic vestment, protection from good before attack. Cast silence onto opponents. If badly threatened: meld into stone, then cast Cure Serious Wounds and wait for the opponents to leave.
Treasure: +1 large magic morningstar (2d6+1 damage), potion of cure serious wounds, 4,000 sps, two 500 gp art objects (a pair of pearl-encrusted gold candlesticks), 80 gp art object (an inlaid wood box). Vest of escape (too small for Ha-Aiman to wear) (2,000 gp market value), potion of swimming (150 gp market value).
The Idol of Erythnul: The idol’s eyes are (of course) jewels worth 1,000 gp each. If the party attempts to remove the eyes of the statue, it will (of course) awaken. This is a tremendous cliché, so feel free to eliminate it if you so desire. The idol is a large animated object. Idol of Erythnul, Animated Object, Large: CR 3; large construct; HD 4d10; hp 40; init +0 (Dex); Spd 30ft; AC 14 (-1 size, +5 natural); Atk Slam +5 melee; Dam 1d8+4; SQ hardness 8, construct; AL N; SV Fort +1, Ref +1, Wil -4; Str 16, Dex 10, Con --, Int --, Wis 1, Cha 1. Skills: -- Feats: --. Treasure: two eyes worth 1,000 gp each.
Conclusion of the Adventure: The party should be well hacked-up by the time they finish the adventure. They might choose to travel back to a Temple of Pelor with the remains of Surris and the clerics, or they might just wander on into the mists of the evening. After all, the road goes ever on. . .
Stone Quintain (Large Animated Object)
Hit Dice: 4d10 (22 hp)
AC: 14 (-1 size, +5 natural)
Attacks: 2 morning stars +5 melee
Damage: Morning star 1d8+4
Face/Reach: 5ft by 5ft/10 ft
Special Attacks: none
Special Qualities: Hardness 8 (subtract from damage), Construct (no mind influence, poison, disease, critical hits, subdual damage, ability damage, energy drain or death from massive damage)
Saves: Fort +1, Ref +1, Will -4
Abilities: Str 16, Dex 10, Con --, Int --, Wis 1, Cha 1
Climate/Terrain: Any land and underground
Organization: Solitary (according to the MM)
Challenge Rating: 3
A stone quintain is a stone pillar with morning stars attached to it by iron rings. When the quintain is activated, it spins like a top, causing the morning stars to whirl around, hitting the quintain’s targets.