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The Crypt of the Seven is a slightly modified version of Grave Concerns - Waterdeep Faction Adventure by Paul Metzger. This is an expanded faction mission of the Emerald Enclave. It is meant to be a 4-hour adventure with a tie-in to Dungeon of the Mad Mage. I made some changes to make it work for my purposes, but it is a fun little side adventure to throw in.
The City of the Dead
The party returned to the Yawning Portal with the intention of heading to the City of the Dead that evening. While he waited to regroup with the others, Taman saddled up to the bar and ordered a stiff drink to calm his nerves. He pulled out a deck of cards and focused on shuffling and maneuvering them to try and take his mind off the task ahead.
A stranger next to him noticed this and asked if he was familiar with Three-Dragon Ante. After a bit of talk, he invited Taman to a few taverns down in the Dock Ward which he frequented for games. The Muleskull Tavern, the Smiling Succubus, and the Hanged Man were all recommenced. After a quick toast, the stranger left Taman with some advice.
I’d get those shakes under control before you show up. They make you sloppy.
Once at the City of the Dead, the party took their time exploring the area. They explored the private tombs including the Deepwinter and Neverember vaults. They also passed the House of the Homeless, the Hall of Sages, and the Hall of Heroes. With each stop, they picked up a little more history of Waterdeep.
While at the Hall of Heroes Taman noticed a man on horseback evaluating them. He wasn’t trying to hide and wore the garb of a guard. He also had a small faerie dragon that flitted around his body. Eventually, the man asked if they were the ones that Davil had sent. Upon confirmation, he introduced himself as Sir Ambrose. As he led them deeper into the park, he explained
Sir Ambrose: As much as I hate admitting it, robbery and the like happen. There are only so many of us, and only so much we can do. Still, I draw the line when it comes to the undead. And the other day, I saw a man and a skeleton slip under this here monument and not return.
They passed through a densely wooded area that acted as a natural barrier from the rest of the cemetery and emerged into a clearing. One large stone covered in inscriptions sat atop seven smaller stones at its center. The party noticed passages and prose inscribed on each of the smaller stones. Each stone represented a different language. An amalgamation of the seven languages covered the larger stone.
Once he confirmed that the party was intent on solving his problem, Sir Ambrose took his leave. Retreating from the clearing, he left them to inspect the monument and a twenty-foot black hole in the ground under the supported stone. Viigo was the first to the edge. He poked his head over the opening, expecting his dark vision to allow him to see, but the darkness was absolute. He felt a slow pull on him, almost like that of a gentle stream.
Down the Shaft
Sighing he stood and began tying a rope around his waist. With Akta acting as his anchor he began his descent. Upon entering the expanse he realized that he wasn’t falling as fast as he had expected. Instead, it was gradual.
After about 30 feet of pure darkness, an eerie green light appear. As he got closer he noticed it was emanating from an apple-sized orb nestled into an alcove in the wall. Fearful that he may be transported somewhere upon touching it, he passed it by. He continued descending until reaching the end of the rope.
He found himself dangling in the dark.
Up top, the rest of the party realized that he was out of rope length. To remedy this, Taman pulled out another 50-foot length and secured the two together. Soon this length was also used up. They were potentially dealing with a bottomless pit and began pulling Viigo back to the surface. On his way up Viigo tossed his cloak over the green orb and snagged it, bringing it with him.
Once back on the surface he explained to them what he had learned. The darkness was magical, the shaft seemingly went forever, and the only light available came from this little green orb he had brought with him. With bated breath, the party watched as he placed the bundle on the ground and slowly unwrapped his cloak to reveal… a small glass orb.
Shocked, Viigo took a moment before scooping the orb up and heading back to the hole. He lay on his stomach and lower the orb back into the darkness where it immediately illuminated. Now understanding that they had a light source, they regrouped. Agreeing to send Viigo back down, Taman gave him a push to get the process started.
Surprise turned to contempt as Viigo fell backward into the hole, only for his descent to slow once again. He drifted downwards, glaring at Taman until the blackness overtook him once again.
Now that he had the orb free and exposed, he could see the walls of the shaft. Returning to the depth where he had found the orb, Viigo now noticed that there was a door inset in the wall. A small platform, big enough for two jutted outward. Kicking his legs to get momentum, he swung over and secured his feet. He then untied himself and the party pulled the rope up.
Taman came down next. Viigo spat in his hand before grabbing Taman’s and pulling him to the platform. Together they were able to lift the door but discovered that it wouldn’t stay open on its own. Viigo pulled an iron ingot from his pack and used it as a means to prop the door.
Finzu and Akta, who had secured the rope to a nearby tree, were next. Akta easily made it to the landing but Finzu flailed in the darkness. With the help of the light, Akta used her halberd to hook the halfling and secure him on the platform.
As soon as the party began to make their way down the initial hallway an overwhelming source of vertigo and confusion overtook them. Everyone but Taman was able to shake it off. His head swooned and he struggled to get his bearings.
Almost to the T at the end of the hallway, Viigo felt the floor give slightly as he stepped on a pressure plate. The whole party froze as they waited for the trap to spring. Instead, they heard the grinding of stone and a sequence of growls. Immediately they unsheathed their weapons and kept an eye on the hallway to the left.
As the growls become louder, so did the sound of claws moving quickly against the stone floor. A ghoul turned the corner and let loose a roar. More poured into the hallway behind it.
Taman was quick to act and stepped through to meet the first ghoul, shifting his back to the opposite hallway. Finzu and Viigo took up positions where they were, helping to create a type of chokepoint at the intersection. They struck with blades and hammers as the ghouls poured around the corner and slammed into the party. One from the back of the pack climbed over the first few and lashed out with its claws. Another slammed into the pile and pushed it forward against the party. Yet another careened full speed into the growing mass of bodies, pressing the front ghouls right up against the adventurers.
Suddenly there was a blast of radiant light and some of the ghouls shrieked. Still, the mass pressed on. One was able to strike Taman with his claws, paralyzing him. Another raked across Finzu’s shoulder. Yet the party held its position.
Because of the close proximity, this caused both parties to have disadvantage on any melee attack unless they created space.
Akta used her halberd to swing over the heads of the dwarf and halfling, opening up wounds in the ghouls that would be mortal in any other being. With a large push, Viigo created some room between him and the pack. He then opened up a devastating attack on the nearest ghoul. Taking advantage of the situation, Finzu slipped behind the first row of monsters.
As one of the ghouls was about to jump forward, fanged mouth spitting gore in the air, Taman regained his composure and sidestepped it. He parried the creature and beheaded it, sending its body to the floor.
Akta was able to carve out the cheeks and jawline of another, giving it a gruesome smile.
Finzu used his martial arts knowledge to avoid the ghoul bringing up the rear. The tide of the battle began to turn as the bodies of ghouls fell. Finzu found himself fighting the final ravenous creature. He was about to strike out when a silver blade came over his shoulder and impaled the creature’s head. The frenzied eyes went still and slid off Taman’s blade, collapsing to the ground.
Blood, gore, and bodies filled the hallway as the party worked to regain their composure before continuing on.
Exploring the rest of the floor, they found two near-identical rooms, each with a pair of pedestals. One was up a set of stairs, the other at the end of the hallway. Down a few steps was a rather large room. A brazier illuminated the space and a jewel-encrusted sword hung magically above the flames.
In an attempt to get the sword, the party tried to extinguish the flames. However, this was a forever flame and it rose back to prominence. Akta then hoisted Taman into the air. He gracefully flipped through the air and swiped at the hilt, making contact. Still, the magic holding the weapon kept it affixed in place.
Realizing that they needed something else, they explored the rest of the room. Mirroring each other on the east and west walls were stairs leading up to identical stone slabs that looked to be doors. The party did everything they could but couldn’t get the stone to move. Evidently, someone either wanted to keep them in or keep something else out.
They then made their way back to the gory battlefield and took the unexplored hallway. This led them into a pristine room that looked completely untouched by age. Against the far was a conspicuous-looking lever. As they neared the switch they also realized an engraving on the wall.
“We await your challenge. Light up and down then again. If we are defeated our treasure is yours to carry on our legacy. Fail and you shall join our ranks in Hallaster’s army.”
They discussed the riddle for a while before deciding that they should flip the lever. From somewhere nearby, the sound of something sliding into place resonated through the hallways. The party readied themselves and watched the only exit for movement. Time passed and no additional sounds alerted them. Deciding it would be better to keep moving, Viigo took the lead.
As he stepped across the threshold into the hallway, Finzu stopped him. He had seen something shimmering up ahead. Peering down the hall was like looking through a distorted looking glass. Viigo reached out and there was a sudden smack and sizzle as a clear blob struck him in the shoulder. The point of contact sizzled with acid.
Caught off guard by the near-transparent gelatinous cube, Finzu was unable to move in time. The cube slipped forward and began to engulf him. Finzu scrambled and thrashed as the gelatinous body sucked him in. Completely emerged, he was not only subjected to the acidic nature of the cube but he began to suffocate.
Taman and Akta struck the cube with their martial weapons, slicing off pieces of the jelly. Viigo took a step back and readied Heat Metal. Upon casting the spell, Finzu’s eyes went wide as one of his short swords began to glow as if it were in a forge. The pain was great enough that he was able to let go of the hilt.
The sword continued to burn the cube from the inside out. As the heat radiated the innards began to melt. This allowed Finzu to pull himself free. He fell to the floor as he emerged and scrambled to the backlines.
The party was now making an effort to keep its distance. They fanned out and kept their distance from the slow-moving adversary. The heat from the blade continued to melt the cube from the inside. The side of the ooze popped open and the liquified interior fell to the floor with a wet plop.
The Twins’ Challenge
Viigo announced that he thought he had the solution to the riddle. He and Finzu would take the orb and place it on the pedestals while Taman and Akta waited in the room with the sword. If anything happened, they were to call the other two immediately.
Viigo ran up the stairs to the first room and, upon placing the green orb in a slot, lit one of the pedestals. He then ran down the stairs to the second room and did the same. Repeating these steps resulted in all four pedestals burning with an eerie green fire.
Raspy voices echoed through the chambers.
“Brother, it appears we have challengers.”
“So it does my brother. But are they worthy?”
“We shall see.”
The two previously immovable doors in the room with the sword began to open. Akta and Taman watched as identical creatures emerged from each. Dark, ancient armor covered all but wispy white hair and burning eyes. As the twins moved down the steps, each pulled free a longsword from a scabbard on their backs.
Manshoon’s Shadow - Army of Bones
This particular clone of Manshoon had been surviving by hiding out in Undermountain. Eventually, he ran afoul of Halaster Blackcloak and was captured after a brief spell duel. For what may have only been fun, Halaster had his left arm amputated at the elbow.
Manshoon escaped imprisonment through the Crypt of the Seven. In doing so, he found the perfect place to grow a skeleton army as he prepared his assault on Waterdeep. He charged a deathlock halfling, Mirklav, to handle the preparations.
Mirklav has a staff that allows him to control the flow of the shaft in the middle of the crypt. This allows him to avoid the traps and challenges that have been set up.
Descriptions Matter - Part 1
The battle with the ghouls has gone down as a pretty memorable fight with the group. This was special for a number of reasons. The first was the environment. The tight corridor forced the party to make tough decisions throughout the fight. They often had to balance moving and potentially becoming flanked vs staying clumped together and being unable to make an attack.
However, what really made this battle were the descriptions of what was happening. There were only five ghouls. It would be a challenging fight but not very exciting. While I was narrating the battle I took direct inspiration from the scene in 300 where the Persians crash against the Spartans shields (about 1 minute in).
I took a lot of care to describe how the ghouls would crash into each other, how the characters were pushed backward by the force, or how a ghoul would climb over another to get to them. These details made the battle feel much more claustrophobic and chaotic while not adding much to the difficulty.
Descriptions Matter - Part 2
A struggle during this session was getting the players to the first level in the first place. They took an extremely long time exploring the shaft and were paranoid about everything they came across. This resulted in a lull in the game as they struggled to decide what to do.
A lot of this was my fault in my descriptions. I should have made it more obvious that there was a ledge and a door they could enter instead of describing the green light the way I did. My focus on the green light caused the players concern about what it may actually be.
I absolutely loved the creativity of Viigo during the battle with the gelatinous cube. Using Finzu’s short sword as a weapon embedded in the monster was genius and there is no way I could have foreseen that happening. It made the battle that much more fun.